About Leadership

Monday, December 2, 2013

(I usually have an image at the start of my posts and I couldn't find any nice typography stuff, so this was the next best most appropriate option yes) 

So, this happened about two months ago and I've been wanting to write about it for quite a long time now. And so I will. (sigh word of caution: at the end of this post, my train of thought breaks and I become incoherent. read on at your own risk anyway)

Sitting just opposite me on a public bus was a young girl, around 5 years of age who kept staring at me. Now, I'm not one who's good with kids - I don't seem to be able to smile back nor muster enough effort to play peek-a-boo with them (okay maybe this particular girl was too old for this either) so I end up just starring at them. I'd stare till they stop looking at me because they'll usually get frightened off at some point. Or I'd ignore them and they'll lose interest in me soon enough. She was rather persistent though, staring at my chest area, looking at it more than my face which was well, great, because eye contact makes me nervous and uncomfortable. Then she leaned over and whispered something into her mum's ear. 

Well, it was a whisper so obviously I couldn't really decipher anything she was saying except "like her!" at the end of her statement. 

Adults, on the other hand, never seem to be able to keep secrets or whisper or speak softly at all so I heard clearly "you do?"

Her mum started smiling really brightly, probably happy that her little girl was planning for her future and had a certain ambition. She encouraged her daughter, "study hard and you can also be prefect, captain..."

Oh, I get it now. So the girl was staring at the badges of my school uniform and was aspiring to hold a leadership position when she enters school and probably later in life as well. That's perfectly normal and fine but what wasn't okay to me was the response given by her mother. "Study hard". 

Sorry but what? Study hard? No please. I honestly don't think that studying hard is the pathway to leadership. Perhaps yes, it may help certain people get into certain positions in certain scenarios but that isn't true leadership. I don't consider myself to have what I deem "true leadership" but truth be told, studying hard wasn't how I attained those badges, if that's really what the little girl was keen on achieving. 

Leadership is one huge word. Or rather, the meaning behind it is something that doesn't stand alone. It comes with heavy responsibility and it isn't something that can be replaced by another quality. Leadership in itself, I feel, cannot be nurtured to a certain extent and personally to me, the best leaders are the ones who are natural-born leaders - with a charisma, a vision and a level of social awareness that cannot be matched.

It seems, however, that there is a certain misconception about this particular quality in Singapore, and I would assume it holds true for most Asian societies. Somehow, over here, people seem to think that leadership and academic ability are one and the same. Just like the mother on the bus - she somehow has the idea that if one does well academically, one would automatically be awarded added responsibilities and roles in school. To me, leadership is a quality extremely close to my heart because of its importance in my life and it's a trait I aspire to have, be it naturally or nurtured and I don't think that academic brilliance in itself adds value to one's ability to lead.

In a society like ours, I constantly feel like there's a need to place more emphasis on things like EQ (emotional quotient) and EI (emotional intelligence) as compared to IQ (intelligence quotient). Indeed, IQ is extremely important and ultimately, it'll be useful to have a high level of intelligence but it's not entirely enough to bring one to success. I don't know, but I feel like the reasons why we as Singaporeans especially are so cold and unfriendly is because of our education and how we're being brought up to concentrate solely on our studies. I mean, come on, from around seven years old onwards, and the next 10 years to come, most Singaporean children's lives seem to revolve around school and school alone. Life outside school consists mainly of only CIP activities or the occasional outing with the friends made in school. At least, my life panned out in this way and I'm not quite sure if that was the best way to spend it.

It can and I believe it will be changed in time to come, as long as good leaders are able to see this and make a difference to the people's lives and the system that we are currently living by.

Okay, I don't know how my leadership thought bubble expanded to become one on the local education system. I constantly do things like that especially when I type things down in black and white. Everything just seemed to link in my head but now it doesn't at all.

But I'm still going to post this because I'm sure people reading this, if anybody at all, can make something out of this and continue their own train of thought. Alright then, I shall end here :-) Have a lovely December ahead!

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