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The Leader The Teacher and You

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In this book, Mr Lim Siong Guan shared many valuable experiences regarding good leadership exemplary over his career as a public servant. His diversified roles in the landscape of Singapore public service has led to him drawing many comparisons between what a good leader should be. With easily relatable examples, this book also shows the wisdom of his teachers Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Goh Keng Swee. With the passion of leading and inspiring the next generation, this book serves as a fundamental guide for all Singaporean who wishes to be a different kind of leader. Be it in the private or public sector; the core principles of leadership are well recorded in this remarkable collection.

Gained Perspectives

Willingness to learn

The author was tasked to build Singapore first anti-aircraft gun unit the 160 Battalion. Without any prior experience, the author put in the effort to learn and apply what was taught by the Dutch despite him not knowing anything about anti-aircraft guns previously. Ranging from the training of men, ensuring supplies and equipment are ready in the camp. This shows a high level of personal mastery, self-management as well as self-awareness. There were times where I was challenged with a task that I thought was beyond my limit. Perhaps it is, but I’m glad I pushed on with the attitude to learn. I must actively seek learning opportunities to develop personal growth and continuously reflecting on myself.

Scenario Planning

The author brought up the concept of Scenario Planning many times to relate the importance of foreseeing the future. The use of Scenario Planning framework let us identify our current status, learn and improve the system and thus anticipating the future for the organisation. Critical thinking helps to identify and responds to the unanticipated issues make us learn to be more resilient and adapt to changes.

Empowerment of your staff

It is important to value the decisions and hard work of his men. “A leader is never to tell the staff to re-do their analysis, even if they should disagree with their staff’s analysis for whatever reason, as they would whereby be undermining their staff’s work, their sense of self-worth, and the values of honesty and integrity by telling them to write what they do not believe in”. This is how a leader should be when there’s a differing opinion between you and your staff. Put the focus on improving the organization by developing people by developing the full potential of the individual, learning through mistakes and developing the team by giving the trust to the team.

Culture and Values

Values are what define the character of the organisation; culture describes its current personality. The gap between the culture and the values of an organisation represents the amount of work that has to be done to get the organisation onto its winning path. Values of personnel must be corrected so that we can improve the current status of the organisation as it starts with every individual. Using Social Competency, as leaders we are required to maintain effective working relationships by showing consideration, concern, and respect for the men under our care.

Four principles of governance

Leaders must have the vision with moral courage and integrity, be open with new ideas, be self-reliant and build up the sense of belonging for the team. As a leader, we focus on the missions, from the stages of planning, decision making and to execution to achieve mission success. We must always use creative thinking to bring out innovative ways to improve the existing processes so that we will progress further. Developing the team can be done by creating the spirit of comradeship, trust and ensuring the fairness will strengthen the sense of belonging within the team. I believe at the core of a good leader is high competency and therefore building trust in people.

Position Vs Personal Leadership

Position leadership refers to leadership within your appointment where one is aware of the mission, vision, and strategy needed to steer the organization towards the goal. However, being solely a position leader is not enough, one must also look at themselves as a personal leader. Personal leaders are those who work from the heart and not only the mind. They know the reason why they lead and one important question is “How can I help you do your job better?” A good leader will find ways to assist and bring out the best in their men. Instead of only knowing the means to achieve their goals, they seek methods to help the men alongside each other. To achieve personal leadership, ethical reasoning is required alongside creative thinking and critical thinking. This leads to a conviction of a good leader where men would show respect for their personal value and hence support them in whatever they aim to achieve.

Four principles for effective public communication

Portraying high leadership skills with sound reasoning will allow NSFs to understand the mission at stake and why we cannot fail. This encourages them to serve with both heart and mind. With a positive attitude from within, I believe this will uplift the image of RSAF, with all airmen and airwomen, understanding our mission to protect the sky every day. Therefore achieving, interpersonal effectiveness, communicating to influence core competencies.

Future Use

One way to empower our men is to allow them to contribute their ideas to the organization. I will ask them to come up with ideas on how to improve the workplace to make our work more efficient. When a good idea is employed, and they see that their feedback is being valued, it provides them with a sense of ownership where this will motivate them to come up with more ideas. With the focus on the development of individual potential and thus contributing to the development of the entire team.

It is important that throughout my career, I made an impact on someone else’s life and be the ‘Role model” in their eyes. Upon reading this book, one reflection I had in me is to deepen my sense of personal leadership. As a leader, I am required to demonstrate interpersonal effectiveness by providing support and establishing a good working relationship with my men. Trust, fairness and the sense of interdependence must be within the team, so as to ensure the improvement of the organization.

I must have the ability to adapt, learn and apply. This can only be done with an open mind and heart to learn. I believe having self-awareness on my own strength and weaknesses will help to further one’s career and that is constantly learning new thing and upgrading your knowledge. As a leader, I should possess self-management, the capability to manage oneself to control my own emotions and impulses. This is the path to success and this is a journey I would like to embark on.


A leader must always lead by examples, maintain self-awareness as experience doesn’t make you an expert! A leader needs to adopt an open mindset and should be able to take criticisms. I will constantly reflect on myself, to overcome my weaknesses. As a leader and teacher, we have to learn and teach from all angles. It will not be easy but I will try to be an inspiring one for the juniors to look upon.

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