Case Studies

Breaking the silo mentality to discover new leadership possibilities

I am so grateful to have had the inspiring learning opportunity at the Hong Kong American Express Leadership Academy in 2018 where I discovered my potential to be a better leader.

During the Academy, I learnt so many effective leadership skills, my confidence has greatly increased and I have become more fearless in the face of current and future challenges.

The highlight of the programme was the diversity of participants, and the inclusiveness and variety of discussions guided by the Chatham House Rules, which motivated me to bravely voice my opinions and unconsciously improve my Cultural Intelligence.

In my learning group, I mastered the skill of active listening. Everyone in the group was listening very attentively to each speaker’s leadership challenge. We listened, understood, discussed and responded to their specific challenges. In the process, we shared our most pressing problems that unexpectedly overlapped with someone else’s within the group, and a secure place was created to sort out our problems. In doing so, the other sides’ perspectives were introduced while we gradually built connections and a support system with other leaders.

One of my top takeaways from the programme was the concept of Leading Beyond Authority. It taught me to break the silo mentality and look beyond my authority zone for leadership possibilities. Since the programme, I realized the importance of stepping out of the self-proclaimed, limited and imagined boundaries. My mind has broadened and I am ready to embrace more duties that I would possibly have declined before.

At the Academy I learned from other successful leaders that to get things done I need to have certain communication skills, conveying candid and clear messages; to be very specific about the vision, to maintain calm and to have a flat emotional range. Furthermore, the fundamental step of leading a team with a coaching mind-set is to have trust in my teammates first.

The experience was very rewarding and I feel fortunate to have been selected as a participant. What was even more unexpected was that I got the opportunity to attend The American Express Academy Alumni Summit in Washington DC this year as an Academy alumnus! Having met another wonderful group of people during this visit has deepened my understanding of leadership and has reaffirmed my determination to pursue a career in the non-profit sector.

The impact that the Academy had on me continues. Over the past few months, my department has been going through some changes. Our team needs to take on more tasks that are completely new or used to be other departments’ duties. Galvanized into action, I applied this brand new mind-set to my work and positively accepted this challenge. Eventually, I found that the transition looked smoother than I expected. Most importantly, the whole team, highly encouraged, now meet challenges with much more confidence.

As a leader, I have benefited from the Academy more than words can express. I have experienced a transformative change but I know it is only the beginning of my life-long learning path.

Louis Luo
Communications Manager, OneSky for all children