The exciting general election season is once again here in Singapore! Whilst politics can be a tough subject to broach for many - and especially so for a HR outsourcing agency, BGC Group thinks that this is a great opportunity for us to talk about different leaders and some of their traits that helped them to succeed.
Below, we list five influential leaders that many Singaporean employees will recognise. And the traits that make them a well-known leader. Find out more below!
1. Donald Trump
OK, we know that the current President of the United States is not exactly the most popular man on Earth. But there is one skill that we can learn from him— Donald Trump is a genius marketer when it comes to creating publicity. An article by Forbes online has listed some of the President’s genius marketing tips, which we’ve compiled below:
Creating a powerful brand: Trump managed to create a short, snappy, and catchy brand that sticks in the minds of his global audience. “Make America Great Again” could be shortened to ‘MAGA’, however, it is said that Clinton’s “Ready for change! Ready to lead” was harder to shorten. He single-handedly made the #fakenews hashtag a trending topic across the world. That hashtag has caught a life of its own since.
Tried and tested formula: The one strategy that made Trump successful was a simple one. Trump understands the tried and tested formula of Marketing. He understands his target “customers”, what they care about, and what will make them vote for him. He knew that many in America were frustrated and he used that to his advantage.
Aggressively market- campaigning: Trump took every opportunity to market both his cause and campaign— even if it means aggressively driving home the same messages (unfounded or not) repeatedly. He also made sure to market his social media accounts so that his supporters can reach out to him.
Despite his controversial messaging, we can learn a thing or two about successful marketing from Donald Trump.
2. Bernie Sanders
The polar opposite of President Trump, Bernie Sanders is a skilled politician and the favourite of many on the far left political spectrum. Unlike Trump, Sander’s winning strategy and leadership skills lie in the benefits he believed that American citizens should receive. Trump might be a marketing genius but Sanders won the hearts of his supporters by instilling hope— a skill many should look out for in leaders.
Below are some of the changes that make Bernie Sanders a winning political candidate:
Knowing what people want: Sure, most of the candidates running for the Presidential election understands the wants and needs of the general public. However, unlike most candidates, Sanders knew what most American citizens wanted (e.g. free healthcare).
Empathy: Sanders’ winning strategy lies in the fact that he is an empathetic leader. In fact, Sanders uses this empathy to build both his political campaign and reign in supporters. This messaging is even present in his marketing ads, which featured people hugging and embracing one another.
Authentic: Ask anyone and they’ll agree that Sanders is a winner when it comes to his values and personal character. Unlike most politicians and leaders, Bernie Sanders is authentic. He’s notoriously known for telling a crying baby to “keep it down” during one of his rallies. Much like Jacinda Ardern, Bernie Sanders is an authentic and realistic leader.
The key to Bernie Sanders’ winning leadership strategy is his empathy. This is an important trait for a leader to have especially during the current economic recession. Learn more about the three important traits to be an empathetic leader here.
3. Yusof Ishak
Back home in Singapore, there is a lot that we can learn about from our first president, Yusof Ishak, A.K.A. the man printed on Singapore’s banknotes. The young leader took to the role quickly and was determined to challenge the system when things were not right. Here are some achievements that made Yusof Ishak a dynamic leader:
Determined: For those unaware, Yusof Ishak started out as a journalist. But it is surprising to hear how the reporter chose to keep his newspaper Utusan Melayu running despite the air raids during World War II. This is a man who cared about his readers that he was willing to risk his life in order to keep his business running and meet the demands of his customers.
Built a successful startup: Yusof Ishak was an entrepreneurial man. Perhaps that’s why he managed to build a successful startup from scratch. According to this Mindef blog post, the President and a few other Malay leaders managed to build Utusan Melayu, the first Malay language newspaper staffed, financed, and owned by Malay citizens. This was not an easy task! He went through towns and villages, tirelessly sharing stocks to kickstart the business. And even rented the cheapest office he could find.
Recognised injustice: One of the most controversial things President Yusof Ishak did was criticise someone from the royal family for mistreating other trainees at the Kuala Lumpur police academy. A courageous act that caused him to lose a promotion with the academy.
There is a reason why Yusof Ishak is still a celebrated man today. His determination and ability to stand up against injustice has led to him becoming a celebrated leader.
4. Jacinda Ardern
The Prime Minister of New Zealand gained international limelight for being a pragmatic, honest and authentic leader, in the face of adversity. Many grew to like the young Prime Minister after seeing her handle both the COVID-19 pandemic and the New Zealand earthquake. However, we believe that Jacinda Ardern won the hearts of her countrymen by being an authentic leader.
Authenticity is a revered trait that highly influential leaders should possess. A leader that is realistic and true to themselves can achieve a lot of success when it comes to convincing people of their cause. We can identify authentic leadership with the following:
Authentic leaders have a moral compass: Good leaders have a set of values that they adhere to and follow. They’re unwavering when it comes to social norms, choosing to instead fight for the rights of those they lead.
Authentic leaders are open: Openness is a trait unique to authentic leaders. When leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable and accepting of different thoughts and ideas, they can learn more about opposing ideologies. In turn, this allows authentic leaders to absorb more ideas and expand their worldview.
Jacinda Ardern is an exceptional leader because of her authenticity. Read more about what makes Jacinda Ardern an effective leader in this article.
5. Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew is no stranger to Singaporeans when it comes to history and policymaking as the nation’s longest-serving Prime Minister. Both millennial and Gen Z employees looking to adopt leadership positions can learn a thing or two from Singapore’s prolific prime minister. Some leadership skills to learn from Lee Kuan Yew include:
Strive to be the best: Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was a brilliant scholar who is recognised in Singapore and internationally. Part of Singapore’s long-standing ideology is Meritocracy - and his drive for Singapore to continually compete with larger economies to be number one. His success, determination, and competitive nature were what made Singapore the economic success it is today.
Love and passion for your work: Achieving what Lee Kuan Yew did is not an easy task. You first need to love your work and be passionate about your career choices. One of his most memorable quotes for the future leaders of Singapore, “Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards." In a straight-up manner, he means “if you are going to do it, do it properly or go home. “
To all Singaporeans, happy elections this Friday, 10th July 2020!
What are some of the skills that you believe a leader should have? Share them with us in the comments section below!