INSEAD Participant Interview
Fresh ideas on how to lead and motivate others
Leading the Effective Sales Force: A unique opportunity to sit down and think
Tina Pang came to INSEAD looking for fresh ideas on how to lead and motivate others. She came away with the tools to rethink her communications skills, to position her team and to drive progress.
When you are negotiating a volatile and changeable competitive landscape, keeping your sales force aligned, on point and constantly motivated is no small challenge.
Part of this means looking inwards to find new ways to be consistent in your management. It’s about building perspective, processes and structures in the ways that you lead and assess the performance of others. And it’s about learning how to respond with agility to change – in people and circumstances.
It’s this nuanced understanding that brought Tina Pang to INSEAD’s Leading the Effective Sales Force programme. A seasoned sales leader, Pang has headed Twitter’s sales efforts in South East Asia since 2015. When the opportunity to invest in her learning and professional development was offered by her company, she didn’t hesitate.
“I was nominated by the leadership team here to take the programme at INSEAD Singapore, and was hugely excited about the opportunity. Our world is in constant flux, and nothing stays constant, whether it’s the people you are working with or the evolving challenges facing you and your business. I’m a huge believer in lifelong learning and in taking every chance to get out of my comfort zone and build new knowledge and skills to face change head on.”
INSEAD as a learning partner was an “easy choice” for Twitter, says Pang, because of the school’s long-standing reputation and credibility in leadership development. As such, she came into the programme armed with high expectations about what it would deliver.
“I’ve experienced a lot of executive coaching in my career, and something that I have learned is that you can’t change people. In leadership, you have to be very clear about what you can control and what you can’t. And the critical skill is in figuring out how to use your own control or leadership to influence others. I was very interested in how the programme would inform this kind of understanding and how it would be relevant to me.”
The programme did not disappoint, she says.
Indeed, a primary highlight was the way in which she felt truly challenged her to rethink the way she used communication as a tool of leverage and influence.
“The learning experience is very dense, across each of the modules. New information and ideas are continuously being opened up and a predominant theme is communication: how to adapt the way that we communicate to engage, persuade, influence and align others.”
Driving this kind of deep reflection were INSEAD faculty for whom Pang feels “deep respect.”
“Most of our sessions were delivered in a discussion format. INSEAD professors are really great at leading and facilitating this. There is just the right balance of pedagogy and the presentation of concepts, and then stepping back and allowing questions to emerge, thoughts to push through and really rich dialogue to happen. They create a safe space, free of any judgement, in which you have the freedom to think and to flesh out what’s on your mind as you explore new methodologies and fresh approaches.”
Another feature that Pang particularly appreciated was working within her group to peer-review communication skills.
“Ours was a really interesting group with a refreshingly high level of diversity. I am used to working exclusively with people from the digital space, so it was a real bonus to be with leaders from sectors as diverse as aerospace and manufacturing. One of our sessions together required us to make video recordings of ourselves giving presentations, and then to critique each other’s communication skills. Normally, in the work context, peers or teams will just give you a ‘great presentation’ type of response. But here no one held back – it was pretty direct. And all the more insightful and useful for it and for the breadth of different perspectives and expertise.”
Pang completed the programme just ahead of going into her 2020 business planning cycle. As such, the learnings and the takeaways have empowered with new ideas, new approaches and – most importantly – the incentive to sit down and think about how to communicate better to drive better outcomes for her team, and the business.
“My time as INSEAD was really valuable as it has encouraged me to rethink my approaches, especially at a critical point in the business cycle. But not only that, Leading the Effective Sales Force is an empowering learning experience. You emerge with real clarity about how to start, how to position yourself and your team and how to drive meaningful progress. It’s a chance to put your thoughts in order, to erase any doubts that you have and to lead with confidence. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Find out more about the Leading the Effective Sales Force programme.