5 Important Tips For Young Leaders: How To Be A Boss Your Team Likes And Respects

By Chong Jinn Xiung

Rafiq Razali is the 38-year-old group managing director leading Malaysia’s largest media conglomerate. Here, he shares some of his biggest leadership lessons

Tatler Asia
Rafiq Razali, group managing director of Media Prima (Photo: Imran Sulaiman)
Cover  Rafiq Razali, group managing director of Media Prima (Photo: Imran Sulaiman)

When you think of a corporate leader, it’s usually an older individual with many years of experience. In fact, the average age of a chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company is 57 years old. But age is just a number. The face of leadership in the workplace is changing. Younger leaders are rising to lead established companies as organisations fill roles vacated by older leaders.  

Rafiq Razali is one such young leader. Rafiq is the group managing director of Media Prima, Malaysia’s largest media and entertainment conglomerate. A well-rounded and experienced leader, the 2019 Gen.T honouree had cut his teeth in the corporate world working for a major telco in Malaysia before he took the plunge into the startup industry working for the deal platform Groupon and later fitness company, KFit.   

He eventually joined Media Prima Digital, the digital arm of Media Prima prior to its acquisition of Rev Asia and subsequent rebranding as REV Media Group. There, he played a pivotal role in driving the company’s digital strategy and turned the loss-making company into a profitable and high-growth organisation.

Here, he shares five useful leadership tips for young executives.  

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Have an open mind

“My approach to leadership is to be very open and willing to learn from others,” says Rafiq. “If you allow yourself to understand others, you will be able to get the best out of your team. If there is a better way to get things done, I’m all for it.”

Understand that respect is earned

The concept of respect begetting respect is something that Rafiq holds dearly. “If you want your team to respect and listen to you, you need to earn it. It’s not given,” he says. Rafiq believes that a leader should always find ways to add value to his team by actively assisting them in achieving their goals.   

Control the controllable

One of the biggest lessons he’s learnt over the years is on his relationship with control. It’s a lesson imparted to him by a good friend and fellow Gen.T honouree Joel Neoh of Fave.

“As leaders, we need to focus on things that are within our control instead of fussing over things we can’t control. When you do that, over time, you realise that you’re influencing things that you can influence instead of worrying about things that you can’t,” says Rafiq.  

Have trust in your team

Rafiq believes in surrounding himself with talented people.

“I don’t subscribe to being the most knowledgeable person in all aspects of the organisation because we have other leaders on-hand who are good at their jobs,” he says. “I entrust my team leads to run their part of the business as they see fit because [that’s how] we form a strong leadership team that continues to deliver results.”

Share your knowledge

“I’ve been fortunate to accumulate a lot of knowledge and experience over the years; I feel compelled to share my learnings with others because it’s not mine to keep,” says Rafiq.

He mentors other entrepreneurs via Endeavour Malaysia, a network of high-impact business leaders, in his spare time and supports more young people taking up leadership positions because he believes it’s all about ability and not just seniority.

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