Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A funny overview of NKF scandal done by students

PP5506 AOL-Blog 2

iii) Was TT Durai, of Singapore’s National Kidney Foundation, an effective leader?

                By conventional standards of measurement, leadership is about 2 main things: task management and people management. However, I think there is a third crucial element to leadership, which may have often been overlooked --- expectation management. In most cases, the expectations that a leader has to manage are encompassed within the task itself such as hitting certain performance targets, expanding the organisation to a certain level etc. However, such clean-cut assessment of a leader no longer holds true when the organisation involved is one built upon certain moral values and is thus heavily bounded by public expectations. This invariably complicates the assessment of an effective leader, because whether the leader conducts himself/herself in a way that meets public expectation becomes a determining factor of his/her effectiveness.

Former CEO of NKF, TT Durai would most likely have been shortlisted under the league of effective leaders by conventional standards. It is unfortunate, yet unavoidably realistic that the assessment of effectiveness is often contextual-based. In Durai's case, the contentious point being the organisation that Durai is leading is not any profit-making corporation, but a charitable organisation that operates on public funding.

                Assessing TT Durai purely from a normal leadership perspective, he is no doubt highly effective. At an international level, his NKF dialysis program was so successful that other countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan have sought the expertise of NKF. At a national level, he has transformed the originally barely surviving NKF into Singapore’s largest and most well-known charity, helping a substantial number of poor kidney patients. At an organisational level, his innovative fund-raising tactics has brought in a steady stream of funding for NKF and built up a strong reserve. Lastly, even at a personal level, Durai has shown himself to be a highly-motivating and endearing leader when despite public backlash, he received unwavering support from staff who reacted with emotional outburst and tears upon hearing his resignation announcement.

Unfortunately, Durai was not just leading any company, but a charity that demands high moral accountability, which means public expectation forces are at play.  Public not only demands the leader of a charitable organisation to run the organisation well, but also to conduct himself morally, and in line with what the organisation stands for, in this instance, behave charitably. Flying first-class on business trips and having elaborate renovation in the office, while is likely a norm that will not lead to any batting of eyelid in the commercial world, instantly becomes a behavior that is highly unbefitting when scrutinised under the charity lens. This situation was especially apparent in the case of Buddhist monk Shi Ming Yi, former CEO of another charitable organisation, Renci Hospital who suffered a dramatic downfall like Durai due to misuse of funds. Like Durai, Ming Yi’s extravagant lifestyle attracted strong criticism despite consumerism is not any big sin by normal human standard, but of course, public does not see Ming Yi as just a CEO, but a leader of a charity, coupled by his status as a religious leader.

From these cases, it is apparent that the context (the nature of the organisation) in which the leader exists cannot be divorced from the assessment of the leadership effectiveness. In fact, the context decides one of the most important criteria in assessing a leader; a charitable organisation, a religious institution and a commercial entity would definitely not have the same set of criteria to determine an effective leader. Therefore, in the case of Durai, he is an effective leader, but in my opinion, not an effective leader for NKF.

just for laughs - on leadership

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

PP5506 AOL-Blog 1

ii) It has been said that the desire for cohesion is the enemy of real leadership. Why?

                While conventional wisdom often labels an effective leader as one who is able to unite a group of individuals together and rally everyone towards a common goal, the desire for team cohesion can be as much a foe of real leadership as it is a friend, depending on the context of its pursuit.

                Just like even though drinking milk is generally good for health, taking it when one has a diarrhoea is more harm than help; as shown in the Schachter Study on cohesion, a group with high cohesion but negative norms performs worse than a group with low cohesion but positive norms. In this case, if the leader of the underperforming group still chooses to be pro-cohesion, he/she would be relegated to a powerless position as an improvement on group performance would now rely on breaking the cohesion that breeds the negative work norms.

                Although we may argue that the problem of cohesion only happens in extreme cases of an entire group filled with black sheep, we cannot overlook the fact that there are pitfalls to cohesion even in usual smooth-sailing operations. Inherently, a highly cohesive group is more susceptible to groupthink, which may not always be the best mode of decision-making. A leader would not be able to get the best out of each individual if he/she is perpetually preoccupied with maintaining cohesion. Eventually, innovation is silenced as everyone self-censors and either consciously or unknowingly conforms. While such operandi modus may not appear especially problematic in good times since it enhances efficiency in decision-making, once crisis strikes, sticking to such cohesion-based mentality could very well lead to the downfall of the leader and the group that have long been conditioned and unable to think-out-of-the-box.

                In addition, maintaining cohesion involves keeping everyone in the group happy to a certain extent. However, depending on the size and make-up of the group, a bigger or more heterogeneous group would invariably consist of more varied needs and demands, and trying to keep everyone in such a group happy could be almost mission impossible. Unavoidably, every decision made would result in some winners and some losers, yet certain decisions are necessary for a group to progress or advance. In this instance, if for the fear of disrupting cohesion, a leader chooses not to take certain essential decision, he/she would not have acted in the best interests of the group, which is not befitting of what a leader should be. Worse still, if the inaction of the leader leads to a worsening of the overall situation, his/her good intent of wanting to keep everyone happy could very well end up with making none happy, as the ones who are pro the decision lament at the indecisiveness of their leader and those who are against the decision then but now suffer from the ramifications may just blame their leader for the lack of “knowing-better”. In the end, it could simply be a case of pleasing no one, yet the authority of the leadership suffers a beating.


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Thursday, November 15, 2007




Monday, October 22, 2007



Thursday, October 11, 2007


  没有人老是跟我抢电视的remote control,虽然可以专心看自己喜欢的节目,可是看电视少了个伴不知道会不会太寂寞  

Thursday, October 04, 2007


  无意间在电台听到一首很久以前的歌——小虎队的《红蜻蜓》。  突然唤醒了沉封多时的回忆。