The Portrait of a Leader
by Marge F. Friginal
To the untrained eye, being a leader may seem like an easy and glamorous job. The traditional picture of a leader is an autocratic one: You hire people, give out orders based on clear expectations of what needs to be done, no questions asked, and wait for results while sitting in a luxurious office with a great view of the city.
In the fast-paced, evolving, post-modern corporate world of the early 21st century, this one-dimensional stereotypical leader is a rare sighting, if any. In reality, no two leaders are the same; they are equipped with their own style of leadership that has proven to be effective and successful in their own way.
In order to have a clearer picture of today’s leader, Wazzup invited several business leaders to share various insights on their definition of leadership, their preferred personal leadership style, and the lessons and experiences that shaped them to be the established and respected corporate leaders they are today.
You will find that while their answers and experiences are different, there is an interesting similarity to all of them—their proud and memorable moments as leaders usually involve seeing their people grow and accomplish great things themselves. Perhaps John Quincy Adams said it best: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
KENNETH S. YANG
President & CEO of Golden Arches Development Corp. (McDonald’s)
For Kenneth S. Yang, son of McDonald’s Philippines founder George T. Yang, leadership is the ability of an individual to take on a group of people, harness their strengths, and be able to guide them towards a definite direction.
A self-described flexible leader, he tries to surround himself with individuals whom he trusts to complement his strengths and weaknesses. He does not believe in autocracy, and seldom makes decisions based solely on his judgment. Instead, he relies on his team to work together and make those decisions. During instances wherein there is no clear consensus, he ‘breaks the tie’ and makes the call.
Mr. Yang traces his preferred leadership style to personality and experience, describing himself as a thinker and strategist. His experiences on the other hand, influence the way he leads and manages people. Working inside the store helped him understand day-to-day operations and allowed him to interact with different kinds of people. Through these experiences, credibility and respect for his judgment were established. It is, after all, important for a leader to always walk the talk.
His proudest moment as a leader came in 2005, when he assumed the role of President and CEO of McDonald’s. Although the next few years were riddled with unstable economic conditions which posed difficulties for the company, he and his entire team were able to rise above the adversity. Incredibly, even at the height of the global recession, McDonald’s managed to achieve positive growth and even expanded operations.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Yang names his father as role model, whose perseverance and “can do” attitude are a great inspiration and driving force. Another business guru he looks up to is Warren Buffet, whom he admires as an investor who relies more on his people.
When it comes to advice for fledgling leaders out there, Mr. Yang offers three important tips: Hire the right people, and invest and trust in them; it takes the same effort to do something big and small, so do it big; and finally, always go back to the basics and focus on what really matters to your business-- understand what your market or customers really want, given that consumers nowadays are more discerning. Always ensure that every customer is satisfied and will keep coming back.