working towards great client service


When someone is holding a leader position, it does not necessarily mean they should. Sometimes, a good leader is defined when there is a bad one, so how can we identify a bad leader and why does it matter?

Consciously, you will feel uncomfortable when working with non-organized and messy people. Thus you try not to be like them by organizing and putting yourself into his/her shoes, then think ‘if I were him/her, I would do this’ in order to improve yourself. Similar to leadership, a bad leader will teach you how to be a good leader. I will introduce my audience three ways to define a bad leadership. Those might be obvious, yet apparently are not.

It is such a deep conversation with my interviewer Tran Nguyen Lan Khanh (Ms), who is currently a Card Operation Manager at HSBC for more than four years. At this position, she has to lead 30 members in the team Card, the biggest team she ever had. In a cozy and quiet space, our conversation become more interesting with Khanh’s stories regarding her leadership lessons, which she has collected in 20 years working in bank industry.   Image

Reproduced by: Nguyen Hoang Minh Thi 2013

Leaders who don’t care about other faces, probably won’t be good

When Ms. Khanh had just graduated, she worked in a front line service officer for a French bank. She met her most memorable boss because her boss was very aggressive. The boss usually approaches her employees by commenting and giving negative feedback directly immediately among others. Khanh shared that this was giving negative feedback is a sensitive issue, yet her boss did it in publicity, without a concern of employees’ attitudes, feelings and faces. If you did not care and respect employees faces, you shouldn’t expect they to respect and protect yours.

“Just because you are a leader it doesn’t mean you have power to abuse your followers”, Khanh said. Importantly, this was a front line service and customers were not willing to hear those things.

This is an example of a bad leader, have you ever done it before, if yes this is time for you to choose a different and effective approach. Apparently, it does not relate to cultural issue, because her boss is Vietnamese, it is inappropriate leadership style. Basically, I would love to show you a good approach that my audiences should practice. It will be a process, buffer-reasons-bad news-positive close (Thill and Bovee 2008). Closing the message positively, yet still honest and respectful manners will convince followers and employee commitment (Robert 2006).

Without knowledge a leader cannot convince followers, even themselves

The music seems to be gentler when Khanh started her second journey in a different bank. This is when she realized that knowledge was a leader’s power to persuade and gain respect from employees.

This time the boss was a secretary and because the head officer assigned so she becomes the brand manager without professional skills and knowledge for career advancement. Khanh told me that there was a time Khanh was given to writing a plan to solve a bank problem.  Ironically, the brand manager wanted Khanh to do what she said, which was illogical, and Khanh could not say anything. Hence, she decided to propose her plan to the head office in Hanoi, and het approval. She told me that she had ever in this situation before, it was a dilemma, and she was standing between the head office in Hanoi and her boss. Ten years ago, the communication channel was limited and obviously you cannot tell everything to the head office in Hanoi. The boss still did not allow Khanh to implement the plan even it was approved and that lady did not have any professional skills regarding account and finance.

In a nut shell, I hardly believe a leader, who lack of professional skill, could lead a team well, and this was not a good leader, Khanh highlighted the point in her conclusion.

Bring personal issue into work place and treat employees unfairly, a good leader won’t do this

Are you a personal who can tell everything to your leader/boss?

Are you a boss/leader who can tell everything to your employees?

As you can see the point here, in work place there is still a boundary between work and personal stories. Khanh continued her career in Vietnam Airlines and she thought that this will be the last station for her to sustain the career. She cooperated well with her boss, contributed impressed performance and could not expect there was the second good leader like this. One ordinary day, Khanh told her that she was going to marry and gave her the invitation. My boss face was darker and since then my work did not run smoothly, we didn’t talk much as usual, Khanh shared. Working in a same office, no communication, no response and Khanh could not hold that feeling too long, so she decide to meet her, yet thing was not improved.

Taking a deep breath and ‘if you were failed to lead your anger and jealousy then you would not get commitment and respect from followers’, Khanh summarized.

Push and pull leadership style

‘Those stories that I told you was about how a bad leader should be, if you were not in the list. ‘Well congratulation!’ she talked with a smile. Finally, Khanh introduced a leadership model that she has used to lead 30 employees at currently bank; she said it was PUSH and PULL model. Immediately, I gave a pencil and paper for Khanh to demonstrate the model. When leaders prefer ‘push’ style, it means they mainly focus on results, pushing followers to get things done. While, ‘pull’ regards encouragement, support and motivation, Khanh explained what she has learnt in the training course a few weeks ago. Hence, although she clearly pointed out the goals for employees, she tended to apply ‘pull’ leadership style.


Reproduced by: Nguyen Hoang Minh Thi 2013

Coincidentally, there is similar leadership model, which includes two variables ‘concern for people’ and ‘concern for result’, the Blake and Mouton leadership grid (Dunphy 1996). Here is the model. It’s more implicated when compares to Khanh’s model.

Blake and Mouton leadership grid

Blake and Mouton leadership grid

Unfortunately, time flies and we ended the interview in a promising feeling about another talk toward this kind of leadership. If you feel interested in the Blake and Mouton leadership grid, my next article is waiting for you to explore. Before leaving the blog, ask yourself – Are you a bad leader?


Word count: 1079

Nguyen Hoang Minh Thi_s3324418


Dunphy, S M 1996, ‘The Entrepreneurial Grid’, Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 69-76.

Robert, J V 2006, Employee Engagement and Commitment, SHRM Foundation, Alexandria.

Thill, J V & Bovee, C L 2008, Excellent in Business Communication, 8th edn, Pearson Education Inc, Upper Saddle River.


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  1. – Nice layout, good use of font size to segment your blog.

    -” a bad leader will teach you how to be a good leader.” INTERESTING JUMP-OFF POINT.

    – THE PARAGRAPH THAT STARTS WITH THIS “This is an example of a bad leader, have you ever done it before…” BECOMES RATHER CONVOLUTED IN THOUGHT BY THE END…

    – In general, good job. The 4 points made in this blog are good ideas to discuss about leadership. Some points to improve are- more links to academic resources/ or discussions that compare them. It seemed that this was only done in the last part. Also it would also be good to connect Ms. Khanh’s tips specifically as to how agency client managers/ leaders can use it in their specific job requirements/ scenarios.

    ~Mel C

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