Lessons From Two Leaders.

by Patrick Liew on January 3, 2014

The stories of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Chin Peng reinforced my belief that that all organisations succeed or fail primarily because of leadership.

Nothing great is ever achieved without a great leader and a great team.

Leaders change the landscape of society. They can change lives for better or for worst.

The good news is that all us can become great leaders. We can build a force for good that will make our world a better home.

There are essentially 6 critical success factors that we can learn from these two leaders to help us build a great team and achieve sustainable success.

These factors can and should be learned, developed, and practiced. It is not just the responsibility of every leader but also every member of the team to implement them.

1. Cause

Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Chin Peng shared the same initial vision of breaking away from the clutches of our British colonial masters. Both men fought for independence but on different platforms.

Their total devotion to the cause and willingness to die for it became a rallying point for the people around them. Many followed them and were prepared to make tremendous sacrifices to turn a challenging dream into a reality.

The first critical success factor to building a movement is to have a worthwhile cause.

The driving factor is to ‘Give your team members a worthwhile cause that they are willing to die for.’

Every human needs a compelling purpose for living. The higher the purpose, the more they will devote their heart, mind, and soul to fulfill it.

What greater inspiration is there in life than to know that we have one short life to live and therefore, we need to make full use of it. What bigger cause can there be than to change the people and world around us for our future generations.

Mr Lee has devoted his life to turning Singapore from a third world country to a vibrant globalised city-state. His courage, leadership and dedication to nation building has made Singapore one of the most admired countries in the world.

As for all of us, I believe deep within our hearts, our Creator has placed a burning cause within our hearts. There is a calling that you and I will have to respond to so as to optimise our contribution to society.

If we promote our cause one person at a time, one day at a time, one experience at a time, it will soon take traction. With perseverance and constant improvement, our personal mission will become an organisational movement.

2. Culture

If people don’t know what we aspire to achieve, they will not join us. If they don’t what we believe in and how we intend to live it out, they will not follow us.

In addition, if they don’t trust us, they will leave us. However if they respect us, they will become passionate and productive members in our team.

Many teams fail because members have lost faith in their respective leader and their team. That’s why it’s important to decide right from the beginning to set a high standard of ethos, morality, and honour.

As a lawyer, Lee Kuan Yew believed that law and order was fundamental in establishing a good society. He was well known for suing his opponents when they put his integrity into question.

Even though it might not be a popular thing to do, nonetheless he believed that he needed to press home the truth. Otherwise, he would have no moral authority to govern the country.

If we and every member in our team seek to be trusted and respected, our team will last for a long time. We will be in a better position to collaborate and achieve better and more sustainable results.

3. Champions

Every revolution is essentially a ‘Leader build leaders who will go on to build even more and better leaders’ movement. This cycle of leadership development eventually takes on a life of its own.

Who should be the first leader? Please say, ‘Me!’

If we are an outstanding leader, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot succeed. As a leader, we must also build leaders who can build other leaders otherwise the movement will soon come to an end.

One of the reasons why I respect Mr Lee Kuan Yew is his commitment to implement an orderly and effective succession plan. He believes that the incumbent should step aside at the appropriate time and a new generation of leaders should be inducted to take Singapore to another level of growth and achievements.

To be an outstanding leader, we must also be an outstanding follower. Unless we know how to follow and to work in a team, we will not know how to lead others and command their respect.

The highest achievement in leadership is to be a servant-leader – one who leads by serving others. Unless we love and serve our people, we do not qualify and deserve to be a leader on a long term basis.

The more leaders we have in our team, the stronger our team will become. With a stronger team, we can achieve better and more sustainable results.

As we strengthen our team, a tipping point will happen and the team will start to fly. Our cause will blaze a trail of glory.

4. Coaching

As a leader, one of our key roles and responsibilities is to invest in developing every single member in our team. We need to help him maximize his potential, enhance performance, and reach the highest level of achievement.

It is my belief that when we invest in developing lives, we live the best of life.

To do that, we need to commit to lifelong learning. The day we stop learning, we immediately become uneducated.

In a fast changing world, there is a limited shelf life to our knowledge and expertise. If we are not learning, improving and achieving better results, we will soon become irrelevant and redundant.

Lee Kuan Yew is a good example of a lifelong learner. He reads widely and solicit information from different sources.

More importantly, he has disciplined his mind to sieve through information and focus on what are critical to achieving the best results. Till this day, he is still being tutored so that he can improve his command of the Chinese language.

When we inspire others to learn, we will also enhance our learning experience.

By the way, coaching is not just training, it is about walking the
journey of learning, growth, and results with our team members.

I call it an ‘I Do, We Do, You Do’ experience. As a leader, we need to set a good example and show the correct way to our team members.

Then, we need to work together with our leaders to achieve the best results. Finally, we need to ensure that they can do it on their own and improve on our results.

When our members feel that their lives have been transformed for good, they will be grateful to us. They will be more motivated to develop an interdependent win-win relationship with us and to support us to in our pursuits.

Who is the first person we need to invest our time in? Who’s next…and next…? Let’s give them our best to achieve the best results.

5. Community

Nobody abandons a positive friend. Everybody wants to belong to a community of friends – a community that bonds closer than a family.

Mr Chin Peng returned from exile in China to join his comrades in Thailand. He wanted to look after them and in turn, they looked after him too.

There is a sense that he cared for the welfare of his men. I’m sure he went out of the way to look after them and that’s why they were willing to spend the prime of their youth living in and fighting from the jungle.

One of the fulfillments in life is to be a part of a purposeful, vibrant and growing family.

Aim to build such a family-feeling in your team. A family that will not only bond everybody together but which will also attract others to join the team.

Immerse the family with love, the most powerful force in the world. Learn to proactively show care and concern for one another and do it graciously, continuously and generously.

Inject lots of warmth, fun, excitement, and dynamism into the team. When that happens, how can the team not soar?

How can others not want to follow us? How can we not begin to take action today?

6. Challenge

Every human needs to be challenged and should be challenged. Healthy challenges can motivate the team to rise to a higher level of achievement and fulfillment.

A productive member deserve such an environment and will value such an environment to help them stretch their potential and drive them to achieve better performance and outcome.

As a leader, we need to spend time to understand our leaders and their unique dream and goals and help them discover their calling in life.

The beautiful thing is that we can always be a partner to anybody and help him design a positive, worthwhile, and desired future.

We need to develop structure, systems, and processes to help them live an extraordinary lifestyle. When they sense our sincerity, sacrifices and initiatives to help them, they will become more committed to help fulfil the cause.

Do it for every leader and for the rest of your life. I believe our Creator will bless us beyond our wildest dream and imagination.

The above 6 factors are imperatives to develop a team of excellence, a team that is built to serve and designed to last.

Let’s turn our team into a model of lasting greatness.



Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: