Irene Ang Shares 7 Traits That Make Up A Good Leader

1. A good leader is first a good follower

“This is one of my beliefs – mantra, even. When observing my staff, I listen to them, see how they take instructions, how they think, how they solve problems. [It helps me] identify potential too. It is very important to listen as a follower, and to be a good leader, even more so.”

2. Ask questions

“I wasn’t born rich. When I was working for people in the past, I’d always do more than what I was tasked to do. When my superior gives me a target, I will work to exceed it. I would take instructions, and learn how to question – diplomatically. It all boils down to asking the right questions.

“When you don’t ask, two things will happen – you’ll never learn, and you may end up doing the wrong things.”

Young people these days are too afraid to ask; they are afraid that people will laugh at them. (‘How can you not know this?’) I admit – I am guilty of that at times. Sometimes, I’m surprised young people ask me questions that I feel they should know.

Nevertheless, ASK. Because when you don’t ask, two things will happen – you’ll never learn, and you may end up doing the wrong things.

As a leader, I will ask my team after meetings if they have any questions, and encourage them to voice their opinions. I would always direct questions back at the team. When I am directing a group of actors, I will ask them, ‘Are my directions clear?’ When I am backstage, I will ask the crew, ‘Do you know what you are supposed to do? Why is the music cue late?’ I ask not to question their actions, but to find out. I think that’s why people sometimes find me to be very long-winded. I don’t like to leave things to chance.”

Irene Ang Main (2)
3. Have foresight and faith 

“Many leaders are put into positions because it’s time for their promotions. Many people don’t realise that ‘Vice-President’ or ‘Manager’ are just titles whereas true respect comes from a good leadership where people can feel that you genuinely care about them.

People can tell when you have a vision. People can tell whether you really know what you are doing or not. I’m not saying that I know everything all the time, but I know that I have a vision. And for the things that I don’t know, I ask, I listen, I learn, and I check with people who know.

However, no matter what it is that you are doing, you must keep the faith. You must have faith that where you want to go can be reached. It saddens me a lot that many leaders are often unsure of where they (and hence, their team) are going.

“People can tell when you have a vision. People can tell whether you really know what you are doing or not.”

I’ve been told several times that I am too optimistic but I’ve been through a lot and met plenty of challenges, but I always try my best overcome it. Even if I fail, to me, it’s not a failure – it’s a lesson. It might take a while, but I will get there again. I’ve not failed, I just will succeed later.”

Read also: 5 Valuable Career Lessons You Can Learn From Irene Ang

4. Work with your team

“A leader cannot be a leader if they don’t like people. They must believe that success is formed not just by an individual, but a team of people.

In a basketball team, if you continuously pass the ball to one person, everyone will be pouncing on him. By round 2 or 3, he will lose his energy and fall.

How does the team dynamic work? This is something I am still learning all the time, by trial and error. I am open with my team. We play around with ideas, saying let’s try this and that. This way, it keeps the freshness and makes everyone open and honest [with each other]. A good leader must work with the people, as a team.

A lot of leaders ask their staff: ‘Are you all a team?’


In fact, the leader IS the team. I like to position myself as the coach and my managers, my HODs in the company are the captains. The coach strategises and the captains execute, but the coach remains part of the team. It is important for leaders to recognize that.”

Irene Ang
5. Always seek to improve yourself

“A leader should constantly seek to upgrade and improve herself. I do a lot of reflection on the weekends; I read articles online and share what I learn to fellow leaders in the company, people around me and even my friends.

There must always be a thirst for knowledge. I won’t be happy thinking, ‘I’ve won this award. Okay, I am good for now.’

Leaders should always look for things to challenge themselves, to improve themselves. I have a lot of books, but unfortunately not the time to read all of them, so these days before I sleep or on weekends when I have time, I’ll just read and read.”

Read also: 10 Things Good Bosses Never Do

6. Surround yourself with good company

“My friends have totally changed since I started this business – I’ve come to surround myself with positive people whom I’ve met over the years.”

“I’ll meet up with people who are good at what they do. I have friends whom I’ve met through my business. I will ask them about things I don’t know and learn from them. My friends have totally changed since I started this business – I’ve come to surround myself with positive people whom I’ve met over the years.

People who I hang out with nowadays are like-minded folk who want to effect change. Many of my friends do charity events together. We share social causes and similar hobbies – we also play tennis together in our free time!”

7. Lead with boldness and a willingness to learn

“A leader must be courageous. You must have the courage to try new things, lead and admit when you are wrong or don’t know something. These are qualities that people don’t look down on in good leaders. On the contrary, they actually respect a leader who is able to say, ‘Hey, I’m human, I make mistakes, and there are things I don’t know as well.’

Right now, I am working on this movie, My Love Sinema, that is slated to be released in September. A lot of people working on the movie have never done one before but we are all learning along the way. When they ask me things that I don’t know, I go to find the answer. A leader must be courageous to take risks and learn along the way.”

See also: 6 Clever Tips For Women To Thrive In A Man’s WorldHow To Dress For Work And Increase Your Chances Of A Pay Raise3 Top Tips For Career Women To Excel In Management Roles.

Catch My Love Sinema in cinemas from September 8.

Local Women Filmmakers Share 5 Ways To Thrive At WorkAbout the movie
Starring Tosh Zhang
 , Cheryl Wee and Jeff Wang, My Love Sinema is a period romance set in 1950s Singapore, telling the story of a Kheong (Tosh), a starry-eyed 20-year-old film projectionist who meets Wei (Cheryl), a young Chinese teacher under unlikely circumstances. As their affection towards each other grows, they face various obstacles preventing them from being together. A riveting story of courage and hope, this nostalgic film chronicles life’s triumphs and disappointments, inspiring audiences to stay true to their passions.