We hope that you and your loved ones are doing well in 2015.
This month's issue has a straightforward "leadership" theme. The leadership biography, by Victoria Yates, is on Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away in March.
Lee's influence on the course of Singapore cannot be overstated. Throughout his life he campaigned ardently for policies that would further the nation's stability and standing as an independent country. Truly, he was "The Father of Singapore". Yet some of this legacy is controversial; his authoritarian approach including crushing dissent and political opposition as well as elitist tendencies towards the ruling classes. A fascinating and complex leader.
We have two featured articles. The first is "Easy Ways to Become a More Effective Leader",by Amy Klimek. Amy is an experienced HR recruiter and believes that simple rules and a fun environment are key to a great workplace.
The second is from Petra Wilton, of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), on "10 Expert Tips to Improve your Leadership Skills". Some very practical advice. Few managers are formally "qualified" for management - and that is the CMI's mission, to improve management standards.
Easy Ways to Become a More Effective Leader - Amy Klimek
When you take on a leadership role, it is now your job to guide your team towards achieving specific goals. While you may be successfully reaching these goals now, there are always way you can better your leadership to obtain some improvement. Below are 5 easy ways to become a more efficient leader:
1. Build a Relationship with Your Team
In order to lead a group, you must build a mutual, true sense of trust and understanding with your team members. The best way to do this is to communicate with everyone involved. Remember, you want to form a real personal connection with each and every team member.
This kind of attitude will ultimately be what develops a shared trust that produces both accountability and outstanding performance. When you display traits like positivity, empathy, compassion, love and humility, you will notice genuine connections building left and right.
2. Focus Heavily on the Positives
While you may wish that your team's daily activities could run smoothly every day, that's probably not going to be the case. The occasional obstacle is bound to happen. This could be everything from a small miscommunication to a huge error. However, what matters most is the way the leader handles this negative issue or situation. After all, this will say a lot about your leadership skills. That's why whenever there is a problem, you should always look for at least three positive things about it.
The more you focus on the positives in an issue, the more positively people will act with each other. In fact, it has often been seen that when individuals point out things they're happy about in a bad situation, they don't feel as strongly about the problem anymore. This allows them to think much more clearly and better solve the problem. The same can be said about a leader. If you notice that a course of action that the team is taking just isn't working, look at some things you've done in similar situations that have worked.
3. Instead of Always Telling, Show
Every single team member works differently, which is why some people work better when they're shown what to do instead of always being told. What many leaders don't realize is that if you are constantly controlling your team to do certain things in very specific ways, you are not going to reach that level of engagement you want. Coaching is ultimately about helping the people you lead identify the choices and options they have right in front of them.
When they get a say too, they take much more ownership over the direction and end result of the project. In particular, you should ask yourself, 'Am I being a teacher or simply just a teller?', 'Am I gaining the trust and respect of those I lead or am I ruling them by fear?' and 'Am I allowing my team to get to their greatest potential or am I actually stopping them from this?'
""I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn't be here today."
"Political reform need not go hand in hand with economic liberalisation. I do not believe that if you are libertarian, full of diverse opinions, full of competing ideas in the market place, full of sound and fury, therefore you will succeed."
"The task of the leaders must be to provide or create for them a strong framework within which they can learn, work hard, be productive and be rewarded accordingly. And this is not easy to achieve."
10 Expert Tips to Improve Your Leadership Skills - Petra Wilton (CMI)
From public speaking to chairing a meeting, there are many ways in which you can improve your leadership skills.
With only one in five managers actually qualified in management in the UK, those seeking to improve their leadership skills have typically had to do so under their own steam.
While many would benefit from the CMI's Introduction to Management course, others can look to some more expert advice.
1. Meet your guru
If you need help in honing your leadership skills, then find a mentor. Choose the right one and they will be able to share first-hand advice on themes such as presenting to your board, team management skills and finding useful contacts. Mentoring needn't even be done face-to-face - some even prefer doing it online.
2. Grasp your weaknesses
According to the Management 2020 report, leaders of tomorrow will require a large amount of humility to do their jobs, and to continue learning. So rather than simply focusing on your strengths, why not try to improve those weak areas of your managerial game?
3. Let talent rip
As your superiors have recognised your talents by making you a leader, so you can thrive by recognising excellence in others. Organisations such as Motorola have thrived in the past by promoting talent at an early stage, and psychologically, you can boost those around you by doing the same.
4. Learn to chair a meeting
Given our inherent short attention spans - some say many of us can't stay focused for more than 10 minutes - meetings should be kept as short as possible. If you are chairing a discussion, try and encourage others to be concise and relevant, as well as remembering that advice yourself. Not only will you gain people's focus, you'll also save time.
5. Learn to talk
If yours is the type of job that requires you to make a speech from time to time - either at board meetings or at work conferences - then it is worthwhile to learn how to speak in public. Whether you get nervous, speak too much or overly rely on a script, a simple book such as Dale Carnegie's The Art of Public Speaking will offer tips and techniques for performing in front of large, sometimes important, crowds.
Lee Kuan Yew Lee Kuan Yew was born in Singapore on the 16th of September 1923, to Lee Chin Koon and Chua Jim Neo. He was the oldest of five children born into the wealthy Chinese family that had moved to Singapore three generations before.
As a child he spoke Malay, Cantonese, and English with most of his education being undertaken in the latter. He studied at the Raffles Institution, the most exclusive school in Singapore, and proved himself to be a top student. He had aimed to go straight to England after graduation to study but the war interrupted his plans and instead he spent time at Raffles College where he was offered a scholarship. It wasn't an easy time, the Japanese brutality had a lasting impact on Lee's political views and he was lucky to escape the fate of many other Chinese youths who were rounded up and shot during that time. During the occupation Lee learnt Japanese and took up a job transcribing Allied radio transmissions at the Japanese Propaganda Department.
After World War II, Lee went on to study at the London School of Economics but he lasted only one term and instead arranged to move Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University where he studied law. He managed to secure a place at another college for his fiancée Kwa Geok Choo, a brilliant scholar he met while still at school where she was the only female pupil, and the pair married secretly in December 1947. Both graduated with a First and were admitted to the English bar in 1950 but choose to instead return to Singapore to practice law there. Once in Singapore, they officially married and joined a local practice but before long decided to setup their own firm, Lee & Lee. The couple went on to have three children, one of whom, Lee Hsien Loong, became Prime Minister of Singapore in 2004.
Lee became renowned as a legal adviser to trade and students unions and became a key player in the movement against British rule. In 1954 he was part of a group that formed the People's Action Party (PAP); their first manifesto called for independence for a unified Malaya and Singapore. They quickly entered an expedient alliance with the pro-communist unions, a move that Lee characterised as a 'marriage of convenience.' Their inaugural conference attracted over 1,500 supporters and it was there that Lee became secretary-general - a position he would hold almost without break until 1992.
In the 1955 elections the PAP won three seats, including one for Lee. The years that followed were somewhat disordered, with many communist PAP members being arrested and Lee wresting their influence from them. In the 1959 elections, the PAP took 53 percent of the vote and Lee was chosen as prime minister by the party's leadership. He took office on the 3rd of June 1959 and Singapore gained independence in all but foreign and military affairs. Lee immediately instituted stricter work rules for ministers and civil servants and launched campaigns to tackle corruption and immorality in government and wider society, including the media.
Seeing the best chance at independence, Lee started to campaign for a merger with Malaya to end colonial rule. He used a referendum in 1962 that showed 70 percent support for the proposal to keep pushing the agenda through, but the study was flawed. All other votes were blank as Lee had not allowed a 'No' option to be included.
In September 1963 Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia. but race riots followed the next year with Malay and Chinese attacking and in some instances killing one another. Rioters looted and, unable to calm tensions, the Federation expelled Singapore from Malaysia. Lee tried to create a compromise but to no avail. He signed the separation agreement on August 7th 1965. It was a huge personal and professional blow to Lee.
He recognised that without natural resources or defence capabilities the country was in a weak position, and would need a strong economy to survive independently. He led a drive to make Singapore a leading exporter of finished good and courted foreign investment. Lee moved forward with finding recognition for Singapore's independence, joining the United Nations in September 1965 and founding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967.
In the 70s and 80s Lee worked to create a unique Singaporean identity that would embrace multiculturalism and give immigrants a dominant culture to assimilate to, creating national cohesion and harmony. The government frequently highlighted the importance of both religious and racial tolerance and used the law to crack down on incitement.
His efforts to gain the interest of large multinationals started to pay off in the 70s with the arrival of such big brands as Hewlett-Packard and General Electric. They helped turn Singapore into a major electrical exporter and workers were frequently retrained to keep up with the working culture and process of these large multinationals. On a governmental scale, several new industries were also birthed during this period including steel mills and companies like Singapore Airlines. Lee honed in on foreign bankers as well, enticing them with their reliable infrastructure and conditions.
Alongside his economic legacy, Lee also pursued clear social policies during his tenure. These including a 1960s population campaign, urging couples to only have two children and to submit themselves to sterilisation after that to prevent more births. Third or fourth children were given a low priority in the education system and their families received fewer rebates.