How to be an Awesome Leader in Business?

20 Nov 2012, by Adeline Lum CM-


In a recent Youth Entrepreneur Seminar (YES) at Royal Lake Club, organized by Full Gospel Businessmen (FGB) Fellowship, Dato Dr Kim Tan gave a life-changing speech about how to become an awesome leader in business!



A sought after speaker, Kim is a dab hand in many faculties- business, social services and rugby!

In business, he is the founder Chairman of a fund management company in biotech and social venture capital investments in UK, called Springhill Management Ltd (UK). He is also the Chairman of the NCI Cancer Hospital in Malaysia and a board director of a number of companies in Malaysia, India, the UK, South Africa and the USA.

As for social services, he is the co-founder of a UK charity that uses business to transform the lives of people in developing countries, such as Kuzuko Game Reserve in South Africa and the Hagar Social Enterprise Group in Cambodia. As the former Chairman of a UK-based human rights organization, he also worked with street-children in India, Africa, Philippines and Brazil.

A man passionate about sports, he was also the director of Saracens Rugby Ltd in UK.



With so many milestones under his belt, one must think he has to be a genius! But he described himself as “a failed scientist”, who is “never intelligent”. An avid sportsman, he played too much sport at school and his only desire was not get last in class.

Growing up in a poor family of nine children in the rural area of Seremban, he was well acquainted with poverty alongside the sophisticated and wealthier kids of the city. When he went to a private school under a scholarship, he felt like a black sheep, a kampung kid. And when he went to London to the university, he felt even more kampung amidst the educated and elite who could tell you Latin names of a plant and assembled a stripped car engine. It was not until his final year of university that Dr Kim took his studies seriously, even getting a PhD in biochemistry under several fellowships awarded by the university.

“But one thing is that I had always been hardworking,” said Kim. “It is not about how intelligent you are, but how hardworking, knowledgeable, competent and creative you are.

What a colorful life indeed! A man passionate about the poor, Kim made full use of his resources as a businessman to help the poor in practical ways. Let’s hear (or read) what Kim got to say about how one can be a successful entrepreneur like him.



Albeit business is built to make money, the ultimate reason for building a business is to build a fair, just and strong community around us.

As Christians, God want us to create a working environment where humans can develop to their fullest potential. God did not place men in the desert but a beautiful Garden of Eden to support human flourishing. Your office, church and home should be a place for people to gain confidence in their own skills and talents.



“Am I creating a place where my people are growing” ask Kim. “I remember once, in a meeting with my staff, I asked him to leave because he has already grown to his fullest potential in the company.”

Hence, instead of grumbling that it’s Monday, employees would shout, “It’s a joy to come to work!”






Create a Culture of Trust

“If we have trust, we do not need lawyers right?” joked Kim. “If my word is my bond, then we do not need lawyers. But because of the breaking of trust, a two-page agreement turn to 60 pages.”

As a leader yourself, can people trust your word? If they can trust you, they will follow you and do their job willingly without being told. To gain trust, a manager must have clear integrity, selfless service and a clear mission.  There is no basis of trust if we think of ourselves all the time.

In business school, performance is always emphasized. But if you create the right culture, performance would follow. Kim learned this valuable lesson in his rugby club.

“If there is a ten-ton rhinoceros running towards you, you got to trust that you have two buddies on your left and right to tackle that rhino,” said Kim. “In rugby, we were always looking at building stamina, measuring weight and metabolic rate. But what made us win is not these key performance indicators, but the culture of trust that follow. “



People, Not Strategy

We used to hear that “our people are our biggest asset”, but Kim thinks that the right people in the right job are our biggest asset.



“I ventured and invested in a biotechnology company in America. I remember telling the people there it was not their technology that we are interested in, but their people,” Said Kim.

Be the change you want to see in others.


Go for the Long Gain

The local stock market can be a gambling dent, going up and down so sporadically that a five minutes hold is considered long.

“Friends, there’s a thin line between investing and gambling,” said Kim, reminding us to go for the long gain in investing than short gain.


Look for Excellence rather than Mediocrity

When God calls us for something, He asks us to be the best we can be. Boleh lah should not be a standard to have.

“That is why it upsets me when we do not make good products or provide excellent service,” said Kim. “In a rugby team, just being okay will not win us anything.”


Not Just a Single Bottom Line of Making Profit

“How do we use our business and creativity to impact society, especially the poor?” asked Kim. This type of investing is called as impact investing because we are changing lives.



Hagar business in Cambodia, for example, was established to provide employment to women and children who were saved from human trafficking. Most Cambodians live in extreme poverty, with more than 77 percent of the population earning less than $2 a day. Today, 600 people are working under Hagar to run a canteen for United States embassy and Ritz Carlton hotel. This is a progressive business that not only makes profit but also provides income for the locals.



As Service Master Corps positioned their objective statement, Kim couldn’t say it better, “Our objectives are to honor God in all we do, to help people develop, to pursue excellence, and to grow profitably.

And CSR (Corporate Social Relationship) should not turned into CPR (Corporate Public Relations), which is a peripheral mission of the company for show.





“I see a lot of people dying because I run a cancer hospital. I have never known anyone who’s dying say I wished that I spend more time in the office,” said Kim. “But I wished I spent more time with my husband, parents and neighbors.”

What do you want written on your wall and tombstone? How do you want people to know you as for your life here on earth? Remember that you cannot take a single cent with you beyond death. The pursuit of money will not give you happiness because someone will always be above you. Yet, we spend all our time making money.

“Business is a great calling and if you are a Christian, there is no such thing as secular or spiritual gifts. Your business gifts are your spiritual gifts. On the last day, God will ask you what have you done with the business gifts? It will be very sad if we say we used it for money,” said Kim.




Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship started in 1978 by a group of committed businessmen who was touched by the Holy Spirit, who's vision is to share Christ in the marketplace. For more information on where the nearest FGB chapter is to your office, please visit or




All pictures of YES event were adapted from the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship Facebook page at

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