The Legacy of Leadership

Transforming Nations through Good Governance

The Legacy of Leadership

Wise and effective leadership is the foundation that supports national prosperity. This publication examines the principles and pillars of public leadership and national governance that have led people to be catalysts for change in their societies.

The Legacy of Leadership

What legacy will our leaders leave? Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew refused to have statues of himself built, despite many requests. For him, a strong and successful Singapore was the best monument and legacy he could leave behind.

Sound leadership requires Context (understanding the environment and organisational history and culture, as well as broader industry, national and global trends), Character (personal values, qualities and personality), and Capabilities (technical and soft skills and abilities). Effective leaders use their skills and understanding of these three “C”s to develop and impart an organisational vision or goals, and mobilise the needed resources and talent to achieve them.

Are the qualities required for good public leaders identical to those in the private sector? Some common skills – the ability to communicate and inspire, assembling and developing strong teams, planning and managing resources – are the same.

However, the context and values of public service tend to be different from those in profit-making, commercial enterprises. Governments are often called to be more inclusive and have broader societal well-being goals, compared to most profit-driven businesses who focus on key customer segments. Generally, the private sector experiences faster hiring and turnover cycles, while promotion to senior leadership in governments is more internal and organic, as officers move up through the ranks.

Developing Wise and Capable Leaders

There are several windows of opportunity to enhance leadership quality in the public service. These are (1) the professional hiring and selection of new officers; (2) early stage development and training of new officers; (3) merit-based appraisal, promotion and dismissal of officers; (4) guidance and development of mid-career and senior leadership; (5) infusion of new talent into senior leadership through external hiring and transfers.

Freedom to Create will work with leadership experts to design programmes and interventions at each stage of public officers’ career journeys.

Examples are:

  • Leadership development programmes
  • Subject competency programmes e.g. in procurement, government law, budgeting, human resources, managing diverse teams, communication
  • Activities, case studies, simulation games and experiential learning
  • One to one coaching with leadership development experts or mentors
  • Dialogue sessions with senior leaders (to impart and distil tacit wisdom)