The Subtle Art of Leading


Over the June holidays (now done and dusted!), our tutor leaders from the Tuition Programme seized the opportunity to upgrade their leadership skills while other tutors and tutees enjoyed the well-deserved school break. Talk about maximizing your holidays!

Though Heartware Network provides ample leadership training in event-based programmes like the National Day Parade Hospitality Management, it is a first for Tuition Programme. The programme’s encouraging growth calls for greater ownership and empowerment to our volunteer tutors, so the formation for a tutor leader group is anchored strongly this year.

The tutor leaders’ training on 17 June 2017 was conceptualized and designed by past volunteer tutor leader Syafiq Sahrom, who later insisted on participating in the training (in crutches due to a recent surgery, no less. What a dedicated exemplary leader!)

DSC00265-20170627-20170707-115344The leaders shared on some challenges they faced on the ground. It’s so serious here!

IMG_4002-20170627-20170707-115410Syafiq in the midst of the leaders, facilitating their discussions and probing the leaders to think further.

These tutor leaders have been carefully selected after comprehensive interviews and observations in past volunteer training sessions and on first deployment days. Yet despite the rigorous assessment, the leaders still found difficulties leading their respective tutor teams when the rubber hits the road. Plan as they could on certain contingencies, uncomfortable situations will naturally crop up.

They ask “How can I better help my fellow tutors to adjust? Is there any way I can help my tutors better manage their tutees’ erratic behavior?”

We say, there is no straightforward answer. But we can chip away at these issues in bite-sized goals. The leaders worked through modules on how to solidify team rapport, elevate problem-solving skills, and communicate tactfully as leaders.

Did you know that communication is the prime mistake leaders often make that causes their team members to leave? Never assume that others understand you perfectly, so frame your instructions clearly and concisely. Openly acknowledge the good deeds of others, and criticize privately. Indeed, the two and half hour spent together was filled with contemplative discussions and honest sharings amongst other interesting activities.

DSC00270-20170627-20170707-115354“What does effective teamwork mean?”

DSC00244-20170627-20170707-115412Caught in a bind! But with careful observation and good communication, we can do this!

DSC00287-20170627-20170707-115406Have you guys tried, “Don’t Ping the Pong”? We need teamwork to keep the ball bouncing upwards!

For a taste of the fun training content, try out this simple game called Stranded to learn about prioritizing and rationalizing.


Plane crashImage credit:

Boom! The plane you were on lost control mid-flight and it crashed on a mountainside in the middle of nowhere. Imagine that you managed to crawl out of the wreckage miraculously unscathed. You are the only survivor. The plane is about to burst into flames, and you only have time to salvage 7 items. What would you pick out of the list below? Hurry, time is ticking!

Stranded List3, 2, 1. The rest of the items are now engulfed in flames.

Look at the 7 items that you picked. Why did you choose these out of the whole list? How are these items related to your survival?

Now think like a tutor.

You are currently scrambling to submit a personal assignment the next day, but there is a pre-arranged tuition session happening this afternoon. When you arrive at the session, your tutee is patiently waiting for you at the table. However, you noticed that another tutor is having a really difficult time handling his own tutee. The cheeky tutee is running about the classroom and your fellow tutor is at a loss if what to do. At the same time, you did a head count and noticed that while there is supposed to have 5 tutors for this session, there is only 4. You did not receive a pre-empt message from the missing tutor that she will not be around. Now there are 10 children to 4 tutors.

What stress! How would you handle this situation?

DSC00268-20170627-20170707-115349Did they choose funny items for their own Stranded list?

Thank you tutor leaders for choosing to upgrade yourselves in this precious rest period. Remember that with a stronger leadership foundation, you can take on bigger challenges, and scale to greater heights. We look forward to you having an even more fruitful time with your fellow tutors and dear tutees in the second half of the programme’s run.