By Sudibyo M. Wiradji. Published in The Jakarta Post.
Logistics company executive Hans Leo believes in the power of people engagement in growing a logistics company.
Hans Leo believes that a one-man show was not an appropriate managerial style, especially when operating a large company with an expanded network, given that a CEO had limitations in terms of expertise and time.
The president director and CEO of Linc Group disclosed that engaging more people with their respective expertise to fill the company’s strategic positions was definitely favorable to a large company’s business growth, compared to when relying on one person for that growth, amid increasingly keen competition in logistics.
‘I admit as a leader I do not know everything. That’s why I hire the right and best people with different expertise to do it. They help me achieve our company’s targeted growth, a common goal and thus, lighten [the load of] my job,’ said the 42-year-old.
Linc Group, a domestically owned logistics company, provides a suite of supply chain solutions, with branch offices spread across Indonesia, including in Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang, Medan and Makassar. It has also offices in Singapore and China, which provides freight-forwarding services for international clients.
Hans embarked on his managerial post with Singtel as account manager in 1999, followed by his appointment as vice president of Siemens Infocomm Mobile in 2001. He joined Linc Group in 2004 as business development manager and several years later, he climbed the career ladder to hold a position as president director and the group CEO.
The executive finds it out of the question solely managing around 2,000 people working at the group – that’s why he delegates part of his managerial tasks to capable managers in each branch to run the business effectively.
‘That’s how I manage people. A CEO cannot micro-manage’¦because time is limited,’ he asserted.
‘We set the right policy, the right KPI [key performance index] and tell them the objectives that we want to reach. I encourage my managers in each branch across Indonesia to plan for themselves and give input even though at the end of the day I make a decision,’ he pointed out.
Key performance index
With a given KPI, employees will automatically focus on their job and work professionally.
‘The KPI can be changed from time to time, depending on priority. For example, a KPI is set to boost efficiency on the flow of goods from manufacturing to a warehouse. So it’s natural that people will focus on that,’ he remarked.
According to him, business is all about people. ‘In the logistics business, people think it’s about the trucks, the ships, planes and warehouses, but it’s not. It’s all about the people,’ he said.
He visits site managers, spending time listening to their strategies, problems and project details, an effort that he enjoys tremendously but which also keeps him extremely busy.
At the same time, he also expects the same effort to take place down the chain of command, as he believes such a practice allows for leaders to make important decisions based on accurate information gleaned from people on the ground.
‘You must believe that everything that goes wrong in the company is the responsibility of the leader and management board. If you do that, your staff will respect you,’ he said.
To gauge the effectiveness of key appointment holders, the group CEO makes it a point to spend three hours a week with them in their office.
According to him, it is not hard to find expected employees or staff as there are many good people around and it is a matter of how ‘we nurture them. But our major concern is whether they have the right mentality about operational excellence, our company’s business philosophy, and comply with our credo as a way of living,’ he said.
‘My belief is in the 70-30 rule. If 70 percent of the time he does good things and performs well, that’s fine, and we allow for 20 to 30 percent of making mistakes. I try not to have [people who are] 100 percent perfect [with] zero errors.’
‘I also give them leeway to make a mistake, not to shun it, and allow them to know the mistake so that they can learn from it,’ said the executive.
On the credo, he said, employees must have fun and enjoy working for the company. ‘They cannot drag they feet to work and they cannot say, ‘I come to work because I need the salary’. But they must come because they enjoy the work, they can contribute to the company and themselves so that they can grow,’ he said.
‘Employees must also have an organized system for suggestions and complaints. But we also make sure that they have room for growth.’
When it comes to business development, the company’s top priority was focused on three pillars: people, system and assets, which he said were part of the company’s best practice.
‘People must know exactly what they’re doing, have the right mentality about operational excellence. They should do something to be near perfect,’ he said.
‘The system includes IT [information technology] and standard operating procedures. It has to be constantly developed to make it efficient,’ he explained.
‘Honestly, I do not worry about not getting customers. What worries me is when we are unable to achieve our operational excellence. Once we achieve an operational excellence, customers will come because they [manufacturers] commonly outsource their logistics,’ he said.
According to Hans, a leader must have a realistic, long-term vision, be clear on what to do and must be humble. ‘He also must be kind to his subordinates, must be harsh if they fail to implement the credo I talked about,’ he said.
Despite electric engineering being his major subject, he enjoying a career in logistics. ‘It’s very exciting,’ he said.
‘You need to catch up. You need to innovate to provide a better and better solutions. It needs a lot of thinking and a lot of mental exercises.’