24 June 2014

Leadership Singapore Style and Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Attended FGB Gatekeepers dinner with a talk given by Lim Siong Guan who wrote the book "The Leader, Teacher & You". Mr. Lim is one of the pioneering leaders that help build Singapore and so his style of leadership may be called the Singapore Style. I am doing much work on Sinology or Ancient Chinese Wisdom and I find many things of what he said could also be found in Classical Chinese Philosophies.

Some key points (read the book for more) in the talk that had my attention were:

Positional Leadership - They need to learn from the past, adapt to the present, anticipate for the future. Consider this famous Chinese saying, 宋·范仲淹《岳阳楼记》:“先天下之忧而忧,后天下之乐而乐” The leader worry first before the people worry and he is only happy after the people are happy. It shows the foresight and the farsight of the leader and his love for his people.

The mission should be constant but vision needs to be renewed. The Book of I-Ching provides a complete set of guidance of what to keep and what to change for the 64 Hexagrasms or situations and virtues of life.  See I-Ching in One Minute for Abundant Life

Personal Leadership:
-- Not position but followers;
-- Not popularity but results;
-- Not preaching but Examples.
-- Not privileges but responsibilities.

Leadership is 
  • from the front, 
  • side, 
  • back and
  • inward where the people have internalized the attributes of their leader.
    I-Ching #1 乾 Heaven/Creation, line 7, 用九 群龙无首 吉 Dragons have not a leader. Good Fortune.
    Or Lao Zi's the highest level of leadership is invisible. When the people have completed it, they said they did it all by themselves. Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership?
In my courses, I ask the question of where the CEO should stand with the choices of
  1. at the front leading the troop
  2. in the middle working with the managers
  3. at the back strategizing 
  4. at the sidelines cheering the troop
  5. all the above.
I was, in fact, discussing this question with friends on my table before Mr. Lim's talk. I was pointing out the Chinese mindset and the Western mindset are very different. The Western mindset tends to have fads that change with time. The Chinese mindset is always "It all depends on the particular situation". One at the table mentioned that I was not committal. But the true wisdom is always not jumping to a conclusion for prescribing a fixed formula to all problems. The correct answer, of course, should be choice 5 but it is only completed is you list down that particular situation for the right type of leadership. It was very interesting to have Mr. Lim talking about this issue.

The success of Singapore is based on its values of honor - honoring one another, integrity, honesty or essentially righteousness. It reminded me of Mat 6:33 seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you. I-Ching teaches us "利者,以中和也“ Profits come from harmonizing with righteousness.

Consider Confucius‘ sayings on love 仁:
Maslow's 8-stages Need Model.



The revised version adds 'others' into the original self-centered 5 stage model.
  1. The Active or Positive Attitudes:
    忠是「己欲立而立人,己欲達而達人」。
    Faithfulness is "Wanting ourselves to stand up(be independent) to help others to stand up too. Wanting ourselves to be successful to help others to be successful too."
  2. The Passive Attitude:
    恕是「己所不欲,勿施於人」Empathy is what we dislike we don't do it unto others.
Consider how Confucius defines the greatest in How Great are You? Let Confucius Tell you.
  • The 3 Levels of Greatness
    1. Sharing of Material Wealth/Goods.
    2. Right Use of Power. No self-glorifying and abuse of others.
    3. Love for the People of All ages. Care for the aged, trust for friends and upbringing of the young.
Consider too, the even higher dimension of Lao Zi in Who is the Greatest? The Unsung Hero and Lao Zi
  • What does Lao Zi teach us about being greatest?
    It is not about self-proclaimed greatness nor wanting people to praise to you. 
    It is not about doing something to gain reputation or money for self.
    It is about meeting the needs of the situations or people, quietly doing them and doing them tirelessly.
The Comprehensive Leadership Styles:
A more comprehensive leadership skills covering the actions for various situations can be found in
4 Basic and 5 Orientation Principles of Leadership from I-Ching

The 4D Leadership Evaluation Model:
A good way to measure the quality of leadership can be found in The Superior Mindset of A Leader - The 4 Dimension...

To build up such 4D Leaders, we need to develop the man according to The Multi-Brains Whole-Man Thinking Framework for success in the VUCAD world.

Hope you see the broadness and depth of Classical Chinese Wisdom and its applicability for this model world.

Lim Liat (c) 24 June 2014

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