Mr Choo Chiau Beng, Chairman of RI Board of Governors
Mr Magendiran, Senior Deputy Principal
2. Thank you for having me.
3. In my second year of university, I took an exam which asked the question “Are leaders born or made?”
4. I remember thinking that in Chinese, we might have asked a similar question – 是时势造英雄还是英雄造时势？
5. I don’t remember much of what I wrote except that I got an ‘A’ for the exam.
6. But it did spark a lifelong interest for me to understand the nature of leadership, what it is and what it is not, and how do you become a better leader.
7. In fact, it led me eventually to commit several years of my professional life to serving as adjunct faculty of the US-based Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL), a very well-regarded institution for leadership development in the world. I learnt a lot from CCL.
8. In the course of my work, I was incredibly lucky to have met and worked with many outstanding leaders. However, the person who caused me to reflect most deeply about leadership is someone you have never heard of, will likely never meet, let alone get to know.
9. Her name is Kang Huang Lang. But before I tell you about Mdm Kang and the impact she had on me, let me share with you what I believe leadership is not.
10. Leadership is not position. You can be appointed to any grand-sounding role and for a period of time, people might give you the benefit of doubt. But respect is always earned and if you cannot live up to the role, no one will recognise you as a leader for long.
11. Leadership is not about doing things your way. Very often, leadership involves finding out what people need, helping them decide how best to fulfil those needs, and supporting them to achieve their goals.
12. Leadership is, however, also not “going with the flow”.
13. Leaders have the responsibility of thinking, speaking and acting with integrity. That means not spreading rumours and taking care to check facts.
14. If you