Lunar New Year: Start Leading Fearlessly, Like the Tiger!
Learn why this Lunar New Year signals to organizations that it is the time for leaders around the globe to start thinking outside of the box and lead more courageously.
Red envelopes, firecrackers, sweet dumplings, dragon dance, red lanterns—it is that time of the year again when the Asian communities around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year. I know that the past year we have undoubtedly experienced a very stressful period just like the year before, and we are all still not exactly out of it yet. However, as difficult as it was, it is worth mentioning that together, we have also done some amazing stuff here at SHL. In 2021, we won 11 awards, acquired Aspiring Minds, and announced our new website and logo. That is quite an achievement!
Amid all the uncertainties and the trends that are happening in the workforce globally, e.g., the Great Resignation, remote working, it is important to reflect on the good things that happened and take a pause to welcome the coming of the new year. This is also a perfect time for dreaming—of the incredible things that we can and will achieve in 2022.
I believe that all of us, leaders, individuals, and organizations, can do even better this year, whether it is cultivating a more inclusive work culture, leading our people, and/ or contemplating our goals and purpose. I also believe that there is a lot of meaning behind this year’s Lunar New Year that we can apply professionally and personally.
Lunar New Year as a symbol of diversity
Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a new year based on the moon cycles, hence the different date compared to the global New Year’s Day. It is celebrated all over Asia, especially East Asia, despite the most well-known one being in China (hence, it is often confused as Chinese New Year). From Vietnam, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia, to Mongolia, Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year.
While the theme is more or less the same in every country—wishing everyone and their families a prosperous year ahead— each country may have different ways of celebrating this special day depending on their traditions. For example, in Singapore and Malaysia, people would gather around a round table and toss yu sheng, a Cantonese-style raw fish salad, together, and the higher the toss, the bigger your fortune will be; in Korea, people hang bokjori (bamboo strainer for washing rice) on a wall to invite fortune and good luck; in Vietnam, people decorate their house with stone fruit or mai flower tree.
In the west, Lunar New Year may not be a big celebration, but I think it is important for organizations to recognize this celebration and understand that it means a lot to their employees with an Asian background. Acknowledging diversity and respecting each other’s culture and tradition is the first step in the journey to building an inclusive organization. From there, people will feel safe to celebrate their cultural backgrounds and will be more engaged with each other.
Acknowledging diversity and respecting each other’s culture and tradition is the first step in the journey to building an inclusive organization.
The Year of the Tiger
In China and many other Asian countries, each Lunar New Year is symbolized with one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, and along with the animal are also the elements and characteristics. This year is the year of the water tiger. Water symbolizes calmness and stability, while a tiger’s characteristics are brave, powerful, daring, and fearless.
With all the uncertainties that embroil the world, perhaps it is time for leaders to embrace those uncertainties. Staying calm amid facing the unknown and being the rock to your people are two of the most important qualities I think all leaders need to adopt. Furthermore, leaders also need to be ready to think outside the box even more than ever. Being fearless, risk-taking, and tactical is crucial to winning in uncertain times like now, and having all these competencies can be game-changing.
In China, the tiger is considered one of the most majestic beasts and the king of all beasts, thus this new year signifies that we need to come back to work with full power and enthusiasm so we can be on top of the game. Hold more efficient meetings; be more confident in your decisions; be more determined and strong-willed in achieving your mission; and be more dynamic and agile in tackling problems.
Tigers are also known to be fiercely protective of their family. Meanwhile, Lunar New Year is also about reunion and family gatherings. I believe that as leaders, you need to be protective of your people, and you be there for them and make sure they feel they belong. Furthermore, it is important to reconcile differences and start building a culture where everyone feels more connected with each other—like a family.
Being fearless, risk-taking, and tactical is crucial to winning in uncertain times like now, and having all these competencies can be game-changing.
In this Lunar New Year, let’s begin by taking a pause, remembering all the great things that we have done and achieved, and looking forward to many more amazing things that will come to us this year.
I wish all of you—colleagues, clients, prospects— an auspicious year filled with good health and happiness!
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