Needed: A different kind of leadership

Chee Siok Chin

HRC – State Secrets and The Rebirth of Hillary Clinton is a fascinating book about Hillary Clinton’s tenure as the US Secretary of State. It also provides an insight to the workings among some of the Secretaries in the US Cabinet and the White House and the dynamics between their staffs.

While the goings-on within and among the Departments of State and the President’s office are compelling, what was most striking was how Hillary Clinton communicated with the people, her management of her staff, how she interacted and conducted herself with other world leaders and the leadership that she demonstrated in times of crises.

Clinton was not a flawless leader but she was an outstanding one.

Another book that testifies to her reputation as a team-worker, a listener, a compassionate individual and an effective leader is The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power.

That’s not to say that she does all the bidding of higher authority or capitulates to populist views. In her travels to 112 countries, Clinton would try to meet with and listen to private citizens, mainly women, young people, and leaders of civil society groups.

According to a Christian Science Monitor op-ed, her style not only allowed her to take the pulse of a country but also planted seeds of goodwill and expanded shared values.

Singapore’s Government leaders would do well to lift a page from Hillary Clinton’s leadership style. Our ministers continue to wield autocratic governance: A top-down approach by the PAP serves only to perpetuate its own power. To be an effective and affective government, however, its ministers and MPs need to listen to the people’s aspirations and needs.

Unfortunately, our Government is doing the opposite. MPs continue to defend some of the Government’s unfair and ill-considered policies and actions instead of heeding the people’s wishes.

The SDP believes differently. We believe in the kind of leadership that listens, cares and inspires. We believe in investing in our people, not merely utilising them. These principles have guided us in the past and will continue to guide us in the years to come.

Chee Siok Chin is Head, Training & Development and Head, Women Democrats.

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