Leave No Man Behind (Featured On The Straits Times – 28 Feb 2017)


Leave no man behindLeaving No Man Behind – The secrets to building a team that last.

Having trained and spoken at several key events covering leadership, teams and influence at work, I concluded that there are many secrets of building not just a great team, but a team that lasts.

Having been in-field as part of the United Nation’s Peacekeeping Force, I have witnessed the importance of a team being able to thrive under pressure especially when lives are at stake. I believe the first ingredient of building a great team is when your team members are confident that this is the right team. Without this belief, nothing is going to matter.

Here are three key ingredients to building a great team that lasts.


Forget about the high performers in the team. It does not matter how many high performers you have when the team does not grow with it. A high performing team grows with its top performer.

Whoever is in front, leads the team forward to grow with him or her. It is never about a one-person show or glory that determine whether your team is a high-performing. In fact, the team will fall apart more quickly if the leader adopts a one-man glory mandate.


Research has proven that the totality of team’s positive energy in the room can turn one member’s negative energy positive, and not the reverse.

Instead of splitting up what you deem to be good and bad apples, it is better to have many good apples and one bad apple in the same room. The conversion success of the bad apple into a good one is likely to be higher than conventionally predicted.


Organization love to use the word “collaboration”. The truth is, no one collaborates.

I decided to set out to figure out the reason, and I found the hard truth when I was serving in the United Nation Peacekeeping Force. I realize that to be part of a team that needs to perform under high pressure; collaboration is not enough.

This is because collaboration only works during peace time. In a corporate context, collaboration is about two people working on a project together. If one person falters, it is he or her problem, not the other person’s. That is the reason why collaboration may not be enough.

But there is a much more powerful belief and mantra we need to live by – Partnership. This means when one person is in trouble, the other person jumps in to save him or her because they are in this together.

In a peacekeeping context, partnering is about watching each other’s backs so that both parties can come back alive. Start using the word “partnership” to shift mindset towards what a team is all about – looking out for one another.

Use team’s energy to your advantage and convert low-performing members to match high performing one. Lastly, no one is more talented than the other members. When the perceived status is the same, people will start seeing fairness in the team, and that will help you to be perceived as a good and fair leader.