PM Lee: Leaders must accept criticisms, reject yes-men

Credit: MOI

Leaders must accept criticisms and reject yes-men, said Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong when asked to share his leadership mantra at a closed-door dialogue with about 100 technology innovators from around the world.

Speaking at the closed-door event held on Friday (Feb 24), PM Lee poured praises on himself as an exemplar leader who believes in “not to take yourself or your philosophy too seriously”.

The most important philosophy that a leader must have is not to take yourself or your philosophy too seriously. The need for a leader of a nation to be close to the ground and not surround himself with yes-men. In addition, he must be able to accept differing views and criticism, as well as acknowledge his mistakes and change decisions when merited. You have to see the world, you have to talk to people, ordinary people. You have to have a sense of what it looks like not from the point of view of the policymaker, but from the point of view of those who are at the receiving end of your policies. I try not to surround myself with ‘yes, sir’ men. That is important because if all you have are people who say ‘three bags full sir’, then soon you start to believe them and that is disastrous. Instead, what a leader needs around him are people who have their own views, whose views you respect, whom you can have a productive disagreement with, and work out ideas which you might not have come up with, or who improve on ideas you had.

In addition, he must be able to accept differing views and criticism, as well as acknowledge his mistakes and to change decisions when merited, Mr Lee said.

You have to see the world, you have to talk to people, ordinary people. You have to have a sense of what it looks like not from the point of view of the policymaker, but from the point of view of those who are at the receiving end of your policies.

PM Lee also said that he does not surround himself with yes-men.

I try not to surround myself with ‘yes, sir’ men. That is important because if all you have are people who say ‘three bags full, sir’, then soon you start to believe them and that is disastrous.

Instead, what a leader needs around him are “people who have their own views, whose views you respect, whom you can have a productive disagreement with, and work out ideas which you might not have come up with, or who improve on ideas you had, added PM Lee.

When I interview potential Members of Parliament or political officeholders, I would ask them – among other questions – what policy issues they care about and have a view on, and would like the Government to change. That is usually the question which they find the hardest to answer because they are not sure whether to tell us that we are dead wrong on something or other. But if they give us a good answer, we give them very high marks.

For government leaders, it is very hard to break out of their circle. Because it makes so much sense – if only you drew the boxes this way, line things up like that, make that administrative adjustment and everything will work fine. But in fact, every time we draw a box like that, there is a consequence for human beings.

PM Lee stressed that leaders can ill-afford to think that they are always right and should open themselves to consider differing views.

Always leave open the possibility, I may be wrong. If the person tells you something, what makes him say that? Could he possibly have a point?

You may find that after thinking it over a day or two, he has a point and you have to find some way to accommodate that and to acknowledge that you were mistaken.

If you do not take the views, you must be able to persuade the team that you know what you are doing, please come with me even though this time I did not go with the majority view.

PM Lee also has this advice for leaders.

There is no formula for successful leadership. If you think you have found a formula to succeed, somewhere in there you are going to fail. For you to have gotten where you are, you must have some idea, some spark, some breakthrough, some magic… Yet, if you just depend on your personal magic and spark, very soon you will either run out of magic or you will make a mistake.

Do you agree with PM Lee?

 

 * Based on the transcript released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday (Feb 25).

 

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84 Responses to “PM Lee: Leaders must accept criticisms, reject yes-men”

  • knn chialiaobee:

    I rather go talk to a pig than trust this guy..haha lol

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  • PAP has the mandate:

    Do you trust this guy and his team with appalling track records??

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  • Pink Noise:

    The cheek of this pink money face !!! He is practically supported by cronies….and no one stood up and scream at the price of water. KNN pink MF !!!

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  • opposition dude:

    The goondu PM does the opposite of everything he says, that much is crystal clear.

    No yes men, really? Then why did all his dolts voted yes to the PWP? And why aren’t none of his non yes men raising the issues of costs of S&CC, water charges going up in this economic downtown? Are we to simply believe that each and every single one of those monkeys feels that raising these charges are right?

    These monkeys are supposed to be representing the voters who voted for them but what we see time and again is them supporting everything their party wants!

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  • You Got Listen Meh?:

    Low and middle income families are crying out loud over never ending increases initiated by the gahment but no one bothers to listen.

    Let’s pray for a 30% increase in Opposition Votes at the next General Election.

    Singaporeans expressed their heartfelt thanks to L*Y at the last GE. The present lot has since done little to better the livelihood of Singaporeans.

    Better stop taking true blue Singaporeans for granted!

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  • Top in maths n science:

    TALK ONLY.
    I also ask my secretary to send my cny greetings to xi jing ping.
    I also ask my secretary to send my deepest condolences to the victims.

    I talk a lot one.

    I also wish for world peace.

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  • Damn funny:

    LHL is living in his own alternative reality!

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  • Trust only myself:

    Maybe he is right, he doesn’t surround himself with yes-men but all the yes-men like to go and surround him offering their “tripod” skills…..

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  • AnT:

    Time really flies – April Fool is here again.

    No one of sane mind in Sg, at least the 30% believes in the dishonorable son;s own whitewash talk to create a false impression of his tenure. Even his dead horrible person will grin and tell him that’s the best joke he had made in years.

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  • DavidLKSee:

    (1) Yet Another MOTHER of all PAP Political Sick Jokes !!!
    World’s Highest-Paid Politician living in super-tiny Little Red Dot Singapore do not even know that “Self-Praise is International Disgrace”.
    How PATHETIC And PATHETIC (=PAP).

    (2) Reproduced from an Internet Comment:
    PINKY Loong have been talking a lot about TRUST between his Government and The People.
    WHAT THE SHIT does he know about TRUST ???
    I would rather trust a Geylang Prostitute than trust a PAP Politician !!!

    (3) Another Internet Comment during one General Election:
    I would rather give my vote to a DONKEY than vote for a PAP Candidate !!!

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  • thanks to the daft:

    Bull Shitt! The next coming Gen of so call leader will be narrow minded, yess, expressive who squeeble with small things, mean & oppressive, don’t believe, observe those kids nowadays… thanks to the holistic edu, show and tell can solve problem at work meh?

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  • LIONS:

    So,he says this hinself?
    So,WHO DID HE INVITE TO SIT ON CFE ?

    You,me or that d bended women?
    DR CHEE,SDP ,Tan Jee Say or WP?

    WHOSE “Future” is it now?
    From the look of the CONmittee,it seems they are worried about their own’s n their lapdogs” futures???
    As for poor sgs,YOU DIE YOUR BUSINESS ,as usual?

    Meanwhile,GET READY FOR MORE INCREAE$ES??!!!!

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  • ybuhnijmko:

    Please make sure you all download his videos for the good/compassion things that he said, if he or his dogs were to twist their words, do make an article for it and posting everything there. To make him lose face at least, even if cannot get him out from politics.

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  • Samuel S:

    Said for the sake of saying – it carries no weight. Never trust this guy, if you criticise him you would be blacklisted!

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  • Neh Neh Pok:

    PM Lee, one leader says this before:

    “Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them…..”

    This leader is horrible & very kiasu agree?
    PM you must go and tell him, leaders cannot behave liddat.
    Leaders must accept differing views and criticisms. He must also accept oppositions in Parliament. He cannot think he is always right and don’t allow opposition to win.
    He cannot say he didn’t surround himself with yes-men but all his men dare not say he’s naked even when he wears no clothes.
    That is disastrous!
    Also must tell him to be truthful! Cannot caused someone to lose job, another one to go jail and then still say he accepts criticism.
    He must know lying is a sin. This one not I say one. One book says one.

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  • Lye Khuen Way:

    I’ll simply say that he told blatant lies. No yes-men? Sure. Only yes-women, right?

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  • Hhh:

    One proof shows he is talking cork is he won’t dare to take questions from the floor or journalists not from Singapore!!!

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  • Concerned Citizens:

    The PM is a man of 說一套做一套, (say one thing do another). He is really a ‘Devil In Disguise’. 一头披上羊皮的狼.

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  • Lee Chun Seng:

    I wonder who dares to tell him off in his face?
    So does he live like anyone else?

    Regards
    More ten thousand years!

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  • Merlion-is-a-Hideous-Freak:

    If PM Lee slashes the salaries of his ministers by 70% or more, he will definitely be surrounded by less Yes-Men . . ..

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  • N.Jungne:

    Is it April First? No leh, oh I forgot under PAP clowns, everyday also in town. Laugh until peng (upside down)

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  • Humpty Dumpty:

    Let that Long fellow gonna sing “BA Ba Black Sheep” song Lah.
    Chui gong lan par song la..
    One of this day when that fainting spell come in again, it will be “Humpty Dumpty..had a great fall..”

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  • Tan Cheng Bock or Halimah ??:

    So who do you think can criticize LHL better?
    President Tan Cheng Bock or President Halimah ??

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  • Ye ye yesmen:

    Contradicting everything he’s been doing all along
    Wonder who wrote this script for supreme leader
    Just for the outsiders’ ears..
    After the forum he’ll go back to his old nonsense.
    What a joke this is.

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  • Want to kena slap is it?:

    Because of this supposed infamous story of the slapping incident of
    a senior minister in the cabinet many years ago…that was
    why he is surrounded a many yes mean and women…
    want to kena slap is it??

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  • Sceptic:

    Absolutely agree with PM.

    But having said that, this is far easier said than done. And the marketplace of ideas is very much dependent on the ability of the people around him to put together a convincing case for their alternative ideas. If the men in the inner circle cannot be persuasive, all of this will count for nothing.

    A good idea is only as good as its articulation.

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  • pm on bbc interview:

    do listen to PM Lee on ‘BBC Worldnews Hard Talk’ ,interview with brit hard hitting journalist ,Stephen Sackur –this Wednesday 1st march at 5pm (on Radio) . repeat telecast at 11pm.

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  • BuyMeBakKutTeh:

    Let’s us all start criticizing him on his FB!
    Knn

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  • SRF:

    oh? sorry who is he? I do not remember having such a self praising leader…

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  • Can anyone be more fake??:

    I am incredulous!

    There he has been unashamedly harassing and suppressing critics such as Roy Ngerng, Teo Soh Lung, Han Hui Hui, Amos Yee, and a long, long list of other critics and political opponents, and muzzling the alternative media websites by creating unreasonable and onerous financial as well as legal obstacles for them to operate, or forcing them to take down their posts such as Alex Au who hit the nail on the head with the post on A.I.M, or even imprisoning them because they have been critical of the PAP regime (like TRS), and the press and media he controls is ranked 154th in the world for freedom of speech or expression, he now says you have to listen to what others say????????????

    Can anyone be more fake??

    http://www.tremeritus.com/2017/02/26/amnesty-international-conviction-of-activists-must-be-overturned/

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  • PR Effort:

    Do not trust the PAP, this is definitely for PR purposes only. PAP desperately wants their rubberstamp president and gives a half hearted attempt to convince Singaporeans about the need for racial minority, which idiot will buy their story?

    Unless we see the yes men being harakiri, they are not sincere. I rather vote in more oppositions to get rid of the yes men myself. Next election is the first election without LKY, LKY will totally disappear from the memories of Singaporeans, and also LHL promises to step down. It is indeed a very worrying situation for the PAP, by then the whole world would have seen whether President Trump can deliver what he promised, Singaporeans might yearn for a real alternate party to fix our system too.

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  • Perspective:

    Ownself sees ownself in the mirror sometimes not very accurate leh. Better let others see for themselves. LOL!

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  • What they smoking lately!:

    Panellist and behavioural scientist David Chan jokingly addressed civil servants in the audience, saying: “You talk so much to me but when the minister is present, in front of him, you’re absolutely silent.” This habit stems partly from a fear of looking bad in front of others and of failing, added Prof Chan, 50. He heads the Singapore Management University (SMU) Behavioural Sciences Institute, which organised the conference that was attended by 350 people. – See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/why-singapore-needs-more-naysayers#sthash.eEe6qQti.dpuf

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  • What they smoking lately!:

    Speak up against prejudice and build inclusive culture together …
    http://www.straitstimes.com › singapore › spea…
    Feb 17, 2017 – … said Madam Halimah Yacob, the Speaker of Parliament. … Madam Halimah said Singaporeans need to speak up against violence, unkind behaviour, prejudice and discrimination.

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  • Root of issue all the while:

    Definition of not suffer fools gladly in English:
    Be impatient or intolerant towards people one regards as foolish or unintelligent.
    ‘he was a perfectionist who didn’t suffer fools gladly’

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  • Sinkies Deserve It:

    Wah, I thought durian has thick skin, he has a thicker skin, or thckerest skin by Zorro Lim’s standard.

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  • 70% Daft Sinkies:

    If that is the case, why he did he reply so defensibly when Ngiam TD, who was Goh Keng Swee’s lieutenant, criticized him and his govt?

    Why did he warned Ngiam that he had a hand in building Singapore and should continues to do so? Why such veiled threats. Can’t he be a gentlemen to tell Nigam, simply, “thank you for your feedback”?

    Who was the one who scratched Ngiam’s car? Was this person sent by an organization or person(s)? Who were the people who harassed his wife at SICC? Who were the backers?

    This papason pinky yellowarse born-with-silver-spoon freaky idiot is lying through his teeth.

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  • Rats can't vomit:

    First claim to be flameproof but now need to accept criticisms. I am getting mixed messages here.

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  • unknown personnel:

    He must be either drunk or drain damage.
    Whatever he say cannot be trustworthy.

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  • RDB:

    TRE Editor & Techie Andrew,

    It is such a great political loss for us all without that GD Star Rating. Especially when the 30 comments in front of me are all in one voice unison spilling the LHL beans for the world to see. After all it was an international meet of of 100 techno professional from the world.

    My point the sly he is as which technocrats will respond to embarrass him as that isn’t their craft at all. That said, I hope you can restore GD Star Rating soon. Also there is an obvious scrolling Up & Down problems in the article only?

    Thank You & Your Team for continuing never giving up regardless. As even though the PAP political gargantuan of twists & turns are still 70% supported, like a hugh structure that is tough to bring down at one go, but it can still be slower but sure chipped at its foundations& pillars until it self collapse. “Pride come before a fall” is so reality true. This PM chap does know it. Like it is said to that “Every dog has its day’!

    Regards
    RDB

    Tech: The ratings are working fine. Please ensure that you have a browser thats Flash and Java enabled. Thank you.

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  • resemble puyi:

    he reminds me and resembles of China’s last Emperor, Puyi. period.

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  • Donald J Trump President:

    I happen to like YES-MAN

    Most of the time, you can rubbish views from people, especially BIG EGOISTIC PEOPLE that want to IMPRESS girls

    When you give people OPTIONS, you made them CONFUSED
    Result they find you lousy leader
    When you give people a LISTENING EAR they take advantage, that is Human Nature

    Set A Goal
    Rally people behind the road map
    Organize what is required to get the job done
    With grit, determination, sheer will
    Rid through the storm
    Yes Man is good

    When you ask their OPINION, you get more NOISE than sound
    As usual its become MESSY
    In the you had to Discipline some of them
    This is so time wasting

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  • ahloong loves mingyang:

    cancer cells move up his brain from his balls? ban freedom of speech but say open to accept criticisms???

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  • Seeker of Truth:

    <bAnalysis and Interpretation:

    Firstly, he is the son of the Great Defector Japanese Imperial Army Secret Police Translator during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. His trustworthiness is beyond doubt as good as his father’s trustworthiness, as he has the DNA and special training of his father.

    Secondly, he is the Chief Politician in Little Red Dot at present. As the maxim goes: All politicians cannnot be trusted because they indulge in politics, which is a very dirty game; which means the Chief Politician must be the dirties among all politicians.

    Thirdly, he is well-known to flip flop on what he said and what he did, even his policies. Therefore, his words and deeds also cannot be trusted.

    Forthly, he was scheduled to take over from the Dead Wood only in 2007 but he managed to kicked out the Dead Wood, his immediate superior, mentor and his elder, for whatever reason only he and his father knew. Whatever the reason, it is similar to Chee taking over from Chiam, and Low taking over from JBJ. All the three of them in their own ways, elbowed out their immediate Boss. Such behaviour cannot and must not be condoned in Asian society. It is tantamount to a trait**’s way of doing things.

    Fifth, it could be his deep, inner conscience talking. He could be feeling guilty during all the past 40 years of his political career but could not express out. The Chinese believed that when a person is about to die, his deep-inner conscience surface and that person would say things completely opposite to his normal behaviour in his past.

    Sixth, he was talking about leaders generally. He was not talking about himself even though it may seem that he was refering to himself or using himself as an example, because he has not been a leader; he was merely trying very hard to be a follower and imitator of his own father. Many of us also have not accepted him as our leader, but a person born with silver spoon and golden plate. And that someone else could have written the speech for him.

    Last but not least, he is suffering from cancer. So, it most probably is his cancerous cells affecting his brain. Therefore, it would be correct to assume that it was a sick brain expressing itself, not a normal brain.

    Conclusion:

    His words cannot be trusted; take them with a handful of salt.
    JUDGE HIM ONLY BY HIS ACTIONS IN THE PAST.

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  • Tatman:

    What a hypocrite!!

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  • pinky:

    Few things:

    1. What happened to President Ong who wanted to check and balance? Why did he has to apologise to Pinky and team?

    2. What happened to Ngiam who claimed SG is too elitist?

    3. What happened to JBJ, Roy etc?

    4. What happened to the shutting down of so many political blogs?

    5. Why was MDA set up?

    6. Protestors jailed protesting at Hong Lim Park?

    7. What happened when WP debated Pinky and his team, they were called liars, opportunists etc.

    Pinky better stop talking cork!!!

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  • Lee Family Con You:

    Leaders must accept criticisms and reject yes-men, said Prime Minister .

    This got to be joke of the year.

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  • Bapak:

    And all the civil servants and all his party members including 70% agree with him. Therefore yes-men & yes-women galore.

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  • gybhunjimk:

    Democratic and freedom of speech has been already dead ever since your dead dad changed his kind heart to evil and when you took over.

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  • Robert Teh:

    ASK ONLY BASIC QUESTIONS

    If the ruling PAP is truly successful as claimed, then it should be able to answer basic questions such as where is our land sale profits.

    Other than sucking people dry of their monies does it increase our productivity or innovation.

    Any world’s selling products created or Nobel prizes won?

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