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I am a Practitioner of 'The 7e Way of Leaders' where a Leader will Envision, Enable (ASK for TOP D), Empower, Execute, Energize, and Evolve grounded on ETHICS!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lesson from Life 05 December 2008

** It is 2 more days to the Singapore Marathon on 07 December 2008 Sunday 5.30am!! **

"Fri, Dec 05, 2008 The Straits Times Get to know S'pore's stars

WHERE are the Singapore stars?

The Institute of Policy Studies posed this question at the Young Singaporeans Conference last month. I was puzzled. It seemed to imply that Singapore was devoid of stars.

To explain my puzzlement, I told the young Singaporeans to imagine the reaction of a young Somali parachuted into Singapore. He would have come from a country where large oil tankers get hijacked, where men are punished for doing traditional Somali dances and where a 13-year-old girl is stoned to death publicly for reporting that she was raped. Any Somali arriving in Singapore would naturally think he had advanced into heaven. Yet he would be told Singapore achieved all this without any stars.

The truth is that the Singapore story does not lack stars. What we lack is a national narrative that brings out the stars. And it would be easy to create such a narrative.

Personally, I have experienced three waves of Singapore stars. The first wave included the three founding fathers of Singapore - Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr S. Rajaratnam. Having had the privilege of working with them (and many other great men around the world), I can confidently say that they would be considered 'great men' by any measure.

The second wave included people like Mr J.Y. Pillay, who built Singapore Airlines from scratch, the late Sim Kee Boon, who built the world class Changi Airport, and Mr Philip Yeo, who lured billion-dollar investments to Singapore.

The third wave comprised institutions like PUB, which is responsible for Singapore's water miracle; the National Parks Board, which created the greenest modern city in the world; and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which is the best urban planning agency in the world.

If the Singapore story is full of stars - and I have only mentioned a few - why do we keep asking where the Singapore stars are? The simple and brutal answer is that our minds remain colonised. Until there is some external endorsement, preferably from a Western source, we do not believe that we have stars. Yet few realise how politicised the processes of selecting stars have become. There are few, if any, objective standards. Instead, political considerations trump objective calculations.

Notes: The writer is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore."

The writer is held in high regards by the government and had been ambassador to the US and UN. He is a Star if you like! How ironically that he should be writing about 'stars'.

Anyway, the lessons for me are:

1. Star is a Western concept in my opinion. We often read about popular press and media glorifying a star CEO being parachuted into an ailing company and the stock price soared immediately. Sometimes the star CEO succeeded in turning around the company, sometimes for a little while and sometimes NOT at all!! So, the notion that One or Two Stars made ALL the difference is ludicrous and laughable! A crab cannot move if the legs do not cooperate! Yes? ;-) ;

2. TRUE stars are NOT bothered with not be recognized by popular press and media! Their conducts and behaviors are anchored upon the solid ETHICS ground that I mentioned in my book: 'The 7e Way of Leaders". They are self-assured, self-confident and NOT self-conceited and ego-centric. They DO NOT fall in love with themselves. So I am concerned about the recommendation to 'glorify' our Stars!;

3. In any team, organization and nation, if the people are NOT with the leaders, or the so-called Stars, nothing will get done. If the Stars get too much of the stars treatment to the extent that the people feel they are unfairly treated, the crack will appear in the wall of trust, and when the cracks get bigger, it may reach a point of collapse. So, common vision, shared glories and shared pains is the way to go.

In closing, the legendary basket all team, Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordon won one of the 6 NBA Championship with the winning 3-point shot from Steve Carr instead of Michael the STAR to reverse a trailing 2-point game with the last second of the game in to a 1-point win! Even if we allowed Stars, we need to have capable bench!!

May the Think Tank heeds my humble input on not glorifying our Stars as they, as true leaders, do not want to fall in love with themselves. ;-))

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