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Transformational Leadership Emma Haslydiana Binti Hasman Fazilah Binti Mustaffa Zakiah Binti Abu Kasim University Utara Malaysia


Abstract A leader is someone who has the ability to influence followers that have the same determination and outcomes for change as he do. People build their leadership qualities This

through life experiences and them able to effectively influence their subordinates.

influencing is usually done by using their authority follower. This paper demonstrates that Lee Kuan Yew as transformational leaders with a vision, some charisma, confidence, courage, humility, a strong sense of justice, a willingness to be different, concern for others, and a willingness to make great sacrifices for his vision. This paper also covers analysis about effectiveness on his leadership and how he change Singapore from country political, social and economic perspective.

Key words: Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, leadership qualities, planning, influence, locus of control.


The objectives of the study are to support the idea that transformational leadership has the positive impact on the follower development, performance and even organizational profitability. This study also focuses on the theories of transformational leadership practiced by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, former Minister Mentor of Singapore. Leadership is an important aspect of a process which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. According by James Scouller (2011) definition Leadership is a process that involves: setting a purpose and direction which inspires people to combine and work towards willingly; paying attention to the means, pace and quality of progress towards the aim; and upholding group unity and individual effectiveness throughout (p.26). According to Richard L. Draft (2008), leadership can be defined as An influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes (p.5). Leadership typically reflects a larger society, and the theories have evolved as norms, attitudes and understanding in the larger world have changed. The various leadership theories can be categorized into six basic approaches:

1. Great Man Theories - great leaders are born not made. These theories often portray great leaders as heroic, mythic and destined to rise to leadership when needed. 2. Trait Theories - assume that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. Trait theories often identify particular personality or behavioural characteristics shared by leaders. 3. Behaviour Theories - are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. It focuses on the actions of leaders not on mental qualities or


internal states and people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation. 4. Contingency Theories - focus on particular variables related to the environment that might determine which particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation. 5. Influence Theories - These theories examines influence processes between leaders and followers. Leaders influence people to change by providing an inspiring vision of the future and shaping the culture and values needed to attain it. 6. Relational Theories - known as transformational theories which focus upon the connections formed between leaders and followers. Leaders are focused on the performance of group members, and want each person to fulfil his or her potential. Leaders with this style often have high ethical and moral standards.

Transformational leadership is the one of most effective leadership style. Transformational leaders are those who transform their followers into becoming leaders themselves. From Wikipedia, A transformational leader focuses on "transforming" others to help each other, to look out for each other, to be encouraging and harmonious, and to look out for the organization as a whole. In this leadership, the leader enhances the motivation, morale and performance of his follower group.

The idea of transformational leadership first appeared in the 1973 where sociological study conducted by Downton, J. V., "Rebel Leadership: Commitment and Charisma in the Revolutionary Process. The concept of transformational leadership was initially introduced by James Macgregor Burns (1978). According to Burns, he described Leaders and followers


raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation (p.20). Transformational leader help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers' needs by empowering them and align the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization. Burns also influenced by Abraham Maslows Theory of Human Needs where this theory recognizes people have a range of needs to which they will perform effectively in workplace will be affected by the extent to which these needs are satisfied.

Transformational leadership theory is about leadership with values and meaning, and a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order needs. Essentially the leaders task is consciousness-raising on a wide plane. The leaders fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel - to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully so they can be moved to purposeful action. (Leadership, p.43-44) In 1985, Bernard M.Bass extended Burns theory defined transformational leadership in terms of how the leader affects followers, who are intended to trust, admire and respect the transformational leader. Bass also suggested that there were four different components of transformational leadership, which also known as four dimensions (Four Is).These four components of transformational leadership, which are: 1. Idealized influence or Charisma This is the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways that cause followers to identify with the leader. Charismatic leaders display convictions, take stands and appeal to followers on an emotional level. This is about the leader having a clear set of values and demonstrating them in every action, providing a role model for their


followers. Genuine trust must be built between leaders and followers. Trust for both leader and follower is built on a solid moral and ethical foundation. 2. Inspirational motivation The degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appealing and inspiring to followers. Leaders with inspirational motivation challenge followers with high standards, communicate optimism about future goals, and provide meaning for the task at hand. Followers need to have a strong sense of purpose if they are to be motivated to act. It is also important that this visionary aspect of leadership is being supported by communication skills that allow the leader to articulate his or her vision with precision and power in a compelling and persuasive way. 3. Intellectual stimulation The degree, to which the leader challenges assumptions, takes risks and solicits followers' ideas. Leaders with this trait stimulate and encourage creativity in their followers. The leaders vision provides the framework for followers to see how they connect to the leader, the organization, each other, and the goal. Once they have this big picture view and are allowed freedom from convention they can creatively overcome any obstacles in the way of the mission. 4. Individualized consideration or individualized attention The degree to which the leader attends to each follower's needs, acts as a mentor or coach to the follower and listens to the follower's concerns and needs. This also encompasses the need to respect and celebrate the individual contribution that each follower can make to the team (it is the diversity of the team that gives it its true strength). This approach not only educates the next generation of leaders, but also fulfils the individuals need for self-actualization, self-fulfilment, and self-worth. It also naturally propels followers to further achievement and growth.


Lee Kuan Yew was undoubtedly the founder of modern Singapore. He was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, governing for three decades from 1959 until he stepped down in 1990 (though he remained in the cabinet as Senior Minister and Minister Mentor until 2011. Singapore was transformed into a modern and the most developed city state under his guidance. Lee industrialized the country and made Singapore the most prosperous nation in Southeast Asia. Lee was born in Singapore on September 16, 1923 to a wealthy Chinese family. In 1931 he attended the Telok Kurau English School before he moved to Raffles Institution four years later. In 1939, Lee sat for the Senior Cambridge Examination and emerged as the top student for the whole of Malaya. The outbreak of World War II in Europe made him shelve his plans for further studies in England. After the war, he briefly attended the London School of Economics before moving to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he studied law, graduating with Double Starred First Class Honours. He became a lawyer worked as a legal adviser to labour unions and won election to Singapore's legislative council in 1955, while the country was still a British colony. Since then, Lee had started his political career and his long journey to become a great leader.

Political Career During the World War II in February 1942, Lee had a tremendous impact when Japanese conquered Singapore. Lee said The Japanese brought politics to me. The Japanese occupying forces were blind and brutal and made me, and a whole generation like me, in Singapore and Malaya, work for freedom - freedom from servitude and foreign domination. We decided that from then on our lives should be ours to decide, that we should not be the pawn and playthings of foreign powers. (Alex Josey, 1968)


The impact of the Japanese occupation on his country, had expressed patriotism in Lee to make Singapore independent. He started to articulate the vision to free the country and the people from foreign rule. After completing his study in Cambridge University, Lee joined the law firm and after a few years he established his own company. However, he was more interested in politics and the anti-colonial movement in Singapore. He became the honorary legal adviser for

several trade unions after being acquainted with their leaders. In February 1952, his leadership was exemplified when he managed to guide the Postal Workers Union, in obtaining important concessions from the colonial government. With his strong, expressive forms of communication in articulating his vision, his followers starts to build their strong belief and trust on Lees appealing vision and his extraordinary capability to fight for independence of Singapore. Lee together with his strong followers had started the preparations to form a political party which eventually led to the formation of the People's Action Party (PAP) on 1954. With the strong base of followers support, Lee then started to pave his road to take over the government from British control. In April 1955 Lee was elected as PAP's candidate for Tanjong Pagar against David Saul Marshall's Labour Front-led coalition government. PAP won 43 out of 51 seats and obtained 53.4 percent of the votes. On June 3, 1959, Singapore attained self-government, and two days later Lee and his colleagues formed the first government, with Lee as the first prime minister.


His early political career starting in 1959 when he took over Singapore from British colony, where Lee had faced a very serious problem of high unemployment, severe housing shortage and widespread corruption. The existence of these problems has sparked Lee Kuan Yew a vision to change Singapore. For Lee, change needs to be implemented to address these problems. He initiated an industrialization program to solve the unemployment issue, launched low-cost housing program to move his people from the slum area and implement the anti-corruption strategy. He has implemented a comprehensive legislation (the Prevention of Corruption Act), where he directed the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and initiate the periodic revision of civil service salaries and improve the working conditions to motivate his civil service to avoid corruption In 1961, Lee began to campaign for merger with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to end British Colonial rule after accepting the proposal from Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malayan Prime Minister to form a federation. He strongly believes that a small country like Singapore needs to be part of the federation for a better future but been objected by pro communist party, Barisan Socialis. Through his campaigns he gain a strong support by won 70% of the votes where were cast in support of his proposal and plan. Singapore officially merged with Malaysia in September 16, 1963. However the merger was not last for long. The failure of the merger was a heavy blow to Lee, who believed that it was crucial for Singapores survival (Lee, 1998). Singapore was fully independence on 9 August 1965 thus Republic of

Singapore was created.

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP Post Independence of Singapore


According to Okombo (2011) Singapore was faced with major challengers where they are the lack of natural resources, a water supply system that was beholden primarily to Malaysia, a very limited defence capability, limited land space, a weak industrial base, a fall in trade, as well as a growing population. (p.105) Deficiency makes him more determined to develop Singapore. Because of these related issues, his emphasis on three major concern that is national security, economy and social issues. He implemented several transformation policies and programmes, tightly controlled welfare stated with an economy based in private enterprise, encouraged foreign investment and discouraged political decent. He also stressed discipline, correct public behaviour, oppositions to drugs, English education, and interracial tolerance. Despite of

Singapores limited land space, small population and lack of natural resources, Lee had proved that he grew Singapore to one of the most developed nation in Asia.

The Transformation of Singapore From Lee Kuan Yew's perspective, a country needs stability changes from an economic, political and social. That is the main foundational success in the transformation of Singapore. Without these foundational strength and stability, no leaders in the world would ever successfully lead and transform his country to the success. We will discuss the credibility of Lee Kuan Yew as a transformational leader as below: Idealized influence or Charisma Lee influences started when Postal Union under his guidance obtained important concession from colonial government. He also received support from pro-communist trade unionist. His followers has a strong belief that Lees has a vision and capable to fight for independence for Singapore. Further to this Lee and his colleagues, also his strong followers



like Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, S. Rajaratnam, K.M. Byrne and Samad Ismail have form a People Action Party (PAP), a political party in November 1954 and prepared for the coming election. His influence on voters reveals when he won the seat in Tanjong Pagar as one of the PAPs candidate in election in April 1955. This was followed by next victory by Lees when PAP won 53.4% votes in first general election in May 1959. Lee was then elected as the first Prime Minister. In another scenario, his influence can be seen when his idea to merger with Malaya received majority support. The merger of Singapore into Malaya took place on September 16, 1953. Lee realized this was the best opportunity to end the British colonial rule. Unfortunately the merger was not last for long. We believe this happened because of his vision and sense of mission has influence his supporter, that merger with Malaya is important for a small country like Singapore. Inspirational motivation During the World War II, he resolved to make Singapore independent and started to articulated vision to free the country and the people foreign rule. With his strong, expressive forms of communication in articulating his vision, he started to gain more and more follower including the support from the pro-communist trade unionists. The follower started to build their strong belief and trust on Lees appealing vision and his extraordinary to fight for independent of Singapore. Lee has a strong commitment to solve corruption in his government and he implemented anti-corruption strategy via comprehensive legislation and effective enforcement. Apart from his cabinet, he had to keep motivate and internalized his vision and values to the top civil servant and their department. In parallel, he had initiated the periodic revision of civil service salaries and improves working conditions to build up a highly motivated and corruption free government.



Lee Kuan Yew said that they must decide as a community that they would see their problems through. It was only when they stayed and solved their problems, and not so quitted and so dodged unpleasantness, that they could make a better future for all. He always emphasized that Singapore needed to be strong enough and independence. The people had to stay and face whatever was coming. They also have to increase their competitive power and efficiency so that they could compete with the neighbour countries. Lee was trying to attract foreign technology, elite and capital as well. In 1961, the Economic Development Board (EDB) was established to attract foreign investment, offering attractive tax incentives and providing access to the highly skilled, disciplined and relatively low paid work force. It may help to make the people realized the importance and the benefits of the economic development to Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew advocated Asian Values which encompasses some flavour of Confucianism, in particular loyalty towards the family, corporation and nation, the forgoing of personal freedom for sake of societys stability and prosperity, the pursuit for academic and technological excellence, and work ethnic and thrift. Besides, he particularly emphasized the importance of respect for elders, family and working hard in order to increase the moral values of the citizens. These may also raise the people to the higher level of motivation and then strive for upper needs. They would also consider the community as a whole, not individuals. Intellectual stimulation After coming out from British colonialism, Singapore was faced with major challenges of high rate unemployment, severe housing shortage and widespread corruption which were due to the high population growth rate during the post-war years. Lee strong commitment on internalize his visionary is to focus on civil service servants or subordinates. Then, he motivates them and encourages them to follow his goals by improving of working



conditions and salaries. Lee also had made some revision on top professionals civil servants salaries in the private sector, arguing that this would help recruit and retain talent to serve in the public sector. Lee set example as a role model on anti of corruption and also influence society from involve by setting on action and enforcement. In 1960, Lee used military infrastructure to develop Singapore and he tried to attract foreign investment to improve on the country infrastructure. Nowadays, Singapore has been the busiest port in the world and become the international trade connection with modern port such as air port facilities, sophisticated telecommunications network and comprehensive land transport system. If Lee Kuan Yew is not willing to take risk and challenge Singapore will not be as what we see today. During his leadership era, Lee has created his own successor. He saw the importance of rising up the next generations of leaders to lead the nation. As a leader, the organization must transcend the individual and the leader to continue his legacy. Goh Chok Tong was selected by Lee to be the next Singapores Prime Minister. Individualized consideration or attention Social integration is one of the three main concerns when Lee Kuan Yew is building Singapore. Over a quarter of country he was promoting social integration among races in Singapore within consists of mainly Chinese, Malay, and Indian. Lee Kuan Yew and his government aware that to achieve stability and economic success, Singapore need to have a integration of the various ethnics in the country. Lee also realised that Singapore has no natural resources; the only resource potential that Singapore has is their people. Therefore, Lee emphasized education as one of the important regional strategies. He ensures that every child had a place in school and enforced English as a language to be used in teaching and learning. At the same time, Lee makes Mandarin, Malay and Tamil become



official languages to harmonize these ethnic group. Lee has stated publicity that all four major languages in Singapore were official and equal. Lee set himself as role model on developing high standard at public health and quality environment and as well control on noise pollution. In 1968, Singapore Garden City to Model Green City was lunching by him and Singaporeans follow on his program that has been implanted. He also created a unique Singapore identity between other races and success to make Singaporeans as one community without communalism. Conclusion Lee Kuan Yew is one of the examples of a transformational leader where a leader with has the leadership qualities and capable of giving change to the country. He has the respect of his followers, believed to have a vision and a strong sense on his mission. As a transformational leader, he has the ability to inspire his followers and has a strong commitment to serve Singaporeans. Key leadership of Lee put trust as important to apply to Singaporeans. As Lee himself has said, Singapore leaderships greatest asset was the trust and confidence of the people, the other valuable asset hardworking, thrifty, eager to learn (Lee, 2000). He also transformed Singapore from a tiny port to a metropolitan first- world city with his strong influences, belief and trust. The most important aspect is his characteristics of a successful transform plans and vision been executed to his follower. He also has a great power to motivate his subordinates and people to carry out his plan. Lee Kuan Yew had a vision for Singapore and created opportunities and circumstances. He made use of his charisma not only to gained the heart of his peoples but won the confidence of foreign investors by selling Singapore as the well-prepared Southeast Asian country for investment. He also inspirationally motivates his subordinates and peoples by setting a good example of a person with great integrity. He also made his government by executing certain



policies to provide a challenging yet attainable goal. Sometimes he may seem autocratic to stick with his own thoughts, but having self confidence and being decisive are crucial to a good leader. He might be considered as autocratic, but with the situation in Singapore or Asian countries, some extent of autocracy might ensure effectiveness. It is no doubt that he did everything to protect the interest of Singapore. However, the most important criteria of good leadership are the ability to lead. He did manage Singapore well during his time and demonstrated that visionary leadership is extremely important in moving a country to sustainable development. His leadership had enabled Singaporeans to develop a national identity and bond founded on the core values common to the countrys diverse cultures and traditions. Lee Kuan Yew as a transformational leader are charismatic, dynamic , innovative, commented and motivate follower to achieve beyond his wildest idea that bring success to Singapore from third world to first world country under his reign.



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