I enjoyed each minute of interviewing Hong Lee, the chief executive officer and director of Lee Kum Jee. Being from a business-related field, the way he first presented himself as an insightful and confident individual made me sure that I was going to get the answers that I was seeking. He displayed an impeccable knowledge of leadership styles such that at some point, I felt as though I had known every bit of what one should know to be a successful leader.
He seemed very comfortable to engage in a conversation on a topic that had been part of his life for the last two decades. He first became a leader during his career as a quality inspection supervisor in 1998. The interview generally gave me an insight into leadership styles.
I was first impressed to learn that honesty and integrity are the primary values that can determine the success of any leadership style. Mr. Lee responded to the question that inquired about the values that he thought were essential for any leader who wanted to implement a working style of leadership satisfactorily. He categorically stated that honesty and integrity were the central values because they were the basis of trust.
An honest leader whose integrity is not questionable, according to Mr. Lee, will be trusted by the people he or she leads. If one is trusted by his or her subordinates, they will support his or her ideas and contribute whenever necessary, thus leading to a higher chance of leadership success.
Mr. Hong Lee also made an important statement when he responded to the question of how and when he meets with the people he leads. His response teaches a lot about an effective leadership style. He said that he meets with the team leaders every day to evaluate the progress of their teams in attaining the goals that they had set. Leaders should, therefore, strive to make such regular contacts with their employees to keep them on track. It always reminds them that they are working towards something.
From Mr. Lee’s design, I learned that meeting with the people under one’s leadership on a daily basis also enables a leader to know the challenges that his or her people are facing in their daily activities and thus look for ways to address them before they affect the working of the whole organization by delaying attainment of goals (Kakabadse, Bank, & Vinnicombe, 2004).
My interview with Mr. Hong Lee also taught me that a leader could get his or her people to accept their ideas by highlighting the benefits the idea has once implemented and leaving them to make a choice. The Lee Kum Jee CEO answered that he gets his fellow directors and employees to buy his ideas by explaining to them how it would benefit them and the entire organization. According to Exantus (2012), this enhances the integrity of any leadership style. This is because the leader gets his people to accept ideas rather than imposing them.
Mr. Lee goes on to explain that talking of how a plan would benefit employees may also be a form of motivation when he answers the question on how he ensures that the teams and people he leads stay motivated to carry on with their roles. People may sometimes be reluctant because they do not know how positively it will impact their positions. Therefore, informing them of the common good that will come out of an idea motivates them.
The interview also made me aware that there are various leadership styles that a leader can adopt and each has its features. Mr. Lee says that he is both democratic and strategic because he allows his people to take part in the decision-making and also ensures that each team has well-laid guidelines on how they intend to attain its goals after setting them. From his response, I can tell that a democratic leadership style is one that allows everyone’s participation, while a strategic leadership is one that focuses on planning how each goal or activity is going to be undertaken.
There are, however, other leadership styles, as outlined by Cole (2019): autocratic, bureaucratic, and transactional, which are rarely effective; and laissez-faire and visionary leadership styles which are effective in most cases. The interview also shows that leadership styles can also be employed or used without the leader’s consent (Adeniyi, 2007). Mr. Lee, for example, confesses that he coordinated his group back in college to successfully create a business plan without knowing at the time that he had used a strategic leadership style.
Mr. Lee Hong, therefore, an exemplary leader. The interview reveals that the achievements he has made as the director of Lee Kum Jee Ltd are due to the leadership styles that he employs. He allows his employees to take part in decision-making, motivates them, and persuades them to set goals that steer their achievements even further. He is very honest. He never hides anything from his employees. This is extremely important for any leaders in any fields.
- Adeniyi, M. A. (2007). Effective leadership management: An integration of styles, skills & character for today’s CEOs. Bloomington, Ind: Author House.
- Cole, K. (2019). Leadership & management: Theory & practice.Bottom of Form
- Exantus, R. (2012). Pastoral burnout and leadership styles: Factors contributing to stress and ministerial turnover. Place of publication not identified: Authorhouse.
- Kakabadse, A., Bank, J., & Vinnicombe, S. (2004). Working in organisations. Burlington, Vt: Gower.