The Changing Leadership Landscape in Singapore
12/12/2012 12:00 AM ,
When Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner refer to leadership as boundless—and boundaryless—they are describing the way we approach leadership development in Singapore. We consider development of the whole person as we work with our students and, like Kouzes and Posner, we believe that leadership is within everyone’s grasp.
Among the main areas we focus on in our holistic approach is developing every student’s abilities to be an effective leader. Much time and resources have been invested in helping our students fully understand the fundamentals of leadership—that leadership development is actually self-development. And that’s why The Student Leadership Challenge model has been the one we have chosen to adopt and implement in our programs. It complements and reinforces our focus and it is easy for students to understand. The 360-degree evaluative nature of the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (Student LPI) is especially important as it creates an all-encompassing view for the students of where they are along their personal leadership journey.
We have seen great success and acceptance of The Student Leadership Challenge in Singapore. Of the more than 300 schools in our country, with about 384,000 students, approximately 65% have incorporated The Student Leadership Challenge and The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model into their student leadership curriculum.
At Lifeskills Enrichment, for example, we have been serving the school community for 16 years and since becoming Student Leadership Challenge Certified Facilitators we have been consulting and coaching with teachers and students to create leadership development frameworks and implement school-based programs.
Our leadership development model, called LeadershipWorks™, integrates The Student Leadership Challenge into a 4-year spiraling, holistic curriculum designed to help students understand that leadership is a lifestyle.
Every student is instructed through this developmental process, with the first stage focusing on helping them understand that leadership begins with Personal Leadership: the key toward leadership development is to lead ourselves well. They then move on toward Peer Leadership where they learn that leading others begins with knowing how to build strong connections. After building the skills and understanding of Personal and Peer leadership, students are ready to lead others in People Leadership. This is where they learn how to lead inter-groups, inter-schools and inter-organizations. Finally, when they fully understood the basics, they are ready to venture into Public Leadership where they learn that leaders are key movers in changing the culture within a group, an organization, and even nations.
A component of our LeadershipWorks model is the use of the Student LPI. Over the past few years we have administered the Student LPI to more than 5,500 students, approximately 1,600 each year. We have seen the important insights it can provide and the changes those insights can make in students’ lives. “I have never seen this part of me before” is something we often hear from students who participate in one of our Student Leadership Challenge Camps or Workshops and take the Student LPI. In fact, the experience of one young student whom I have known personally and professionally since she was a little girl of 12 years old is an example of how that kind of self-discovery can make a life-changing difference.
Khor Ting Yan, like many of her peers, had attended various leadership programs organized by her school. But when she experienced The Student Leadership Challenge in Secondary School (equivalent to high school in the U.S.) she came to a new realization about what leadership is and about her own leadership abilities, in particular. She finally saw that leadership was an ongoing process. To develop as a leader it was going to take development of self. And so began her journey. With coaching, personal reflection, and the results of her Student LPI feedback report, she was able to understand where she needed to improve and zoom in on the specific behaviors she was ready to work on. Throughout her remaining years in Secondary School, she became involved in many academic and community-based projects that provided her with opportunities to apply The Five Practices and to improve through disciplined practice. She became aware that one key area she needed to focus on was Model the Way. And over time, by understanding that leadership is not about appointments or positions, she discovered her own personal voice and has had the moral courage to stand up for what she believes in as a leader. Leadership has become a lifestyle. Her countenance and perception towards leadership has changed and she now holds a key appointment in her current school where she is pursuing her International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Like Khor Ting Yan, we know that The Student Leadership Challenge is making a difference in students’ lives and influencing the leadership landscape in Singapore. Through continuous coaching and intervention, with the use of the Student LPI, we are helping to keep our young people engaged in the pursuit of exemplary leadership.