Culture, ethics, leadership – Lee Kuan Yew and Dr. Mahathir Mohamed

Subject: 📚 Philosophy
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 11
Word count: 2986
Topics: Ethics, Leadership, Multiculturalism, 🏳️ Government
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Abstract

The cultural background of an individual and the ethical considerations developed within that individual helps him or her in the process of emergence as a leader. The prime ministers of a country are the persons who have the responsibility of leading the entire country towards a better future in terms of society, economy and politics. In the current paper, the culture, ethics and leadership of Lee Kuan Yew (former Prime Minister of Singapore) and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (former Prime Minister of Malaysia) have been analyzed and compared. The first section introduces the backgrounds of the leaders. After that, the organizational cultural dimensions of both the country leaders have been compared. This has been followed by the comparison of the organizational ethics followed by the pioneers. The roles of their leaderships in the building, embedding and evolving the culture of the countries have been studied. After that, the relationship of the leadership styles and cultural changes enhanced by Lee and Mahathir has been examined. On the basis of this study, the future country leaders have been recommended with ways of enhancing economic and social betterment of the nations.

Introductory Statement

The term culture refers to the ideas and the customs that decide  the behavior of people in a particular society or organization. The cultural background of an individual develops the moral principles that in turn governs the behavior of the person while conducting an activity. The feature of an individual that recognizes him or her as the person with the capability of leading a group, develops the person as the leader (House & Hanges, 2004). The leadership of the country leaders need to be analyzed and compared for providing the future leaders with recommendations to lead the countries towards betterment and growth.

Problems to be addressed

In the current paper, the leadership of the former Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, have been analyzed and compared respectively. The scrutiny has been done on the basis of cultural dimension, ethics, and role in building, embedding and evolving culture and relationship with cultural change. On the basis of the examination, the future leaders are suggested with new roles and requirements of leading the countries.

Discussion of Culture, Ethics and Leadership

Backgrounds of Leaders

Lee Kuan Yew – Former Prime Minister of Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew, popular as LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore. He led the country for more than thirty years (1959-1990). It was under his leadership that Singapore was transformed from a third world country to a first world country (GIC, 2018). It is for this reason that the leader is referred to as the founding father of the nation (Allison, 2015).

Dr. Mahathir Mohamed – Former Prime Minister of Malaysia

Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, has been the longest-serving holder of the office from 1981 to 2003 (Zain & Yusoff, 2015). His political career has spanned for more than 70 years since he has joined the newly developed United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in 1946 (Zain & Yusoff, 2015).

Comparison of Organizational Cultural Dimensions Followed by Leaders

The concept of organizational culture refers to the collective values and behaviors that contribute to the uniqueness of the psychological and social environments of an organization. It is the product of historical events and the contemporary situation of the state which forms the vision, values, norms, systems, assumptions, beliefs and habits of an association. Depending on the aforementioned factors, the culture of a community develops a certain dimension which represents the values and ethics of a leader (Schein, 2010).

Lee Kuan Yew

During his leadership in Singapore, Lee develops the organizational culture dimension of no conflicts and no war (Trocki, 2006). It is on the basis of this cultural dimension that Lee inspires the people of Singapore to transform the country from a third world country to a first world one. In order to fulfil his dream and transform the country towards betterment, Lee is reported to violate the freedom of speech. However, he argues thathe has to set certain limitations on the freedom of the people so that unnecessary conflict can be avoided that may otherwise hinder Singapore in its process of growth (Trocki, 2006).

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

In the process of the development of Malaysia, Mahathir has followed a cultural dimension of maturity, liberalization and tolerance in the society. This in turn has helped the leader in developing such a society in the country that can embrace people of all creeds and colors (Islam, 2010). It is with the help of this cultural dimension followed by Mahathir that the diversified population of Malaysians have been able to freely practice and profess their individual customs and religious beliefs while maintaining oneness with their nationalities.

Comparison of Organizational Ethics Followed by Leaders

The principles and standards on the basis of which an organization operatesis referred to as organizational ethics. It is the demonstration of fairness, compassion, honor, integrity and responsibility of the leader. On the basis of ethics, the leader of an institution leads his or her associates towards the response of internal and external stimulus of an environment while developing principles and values for the governance of the entity (Segon, 2010).

Lee Kuan Yew

Analyzing the ethical mindset of Lee, it can be identified that the leader has followed virtual ethics during the decision making process. According to this model, people make decisions emphasizing not only on the duties and rules of the position but on the consequences of the actions (Hartman, DesJardins & MacDonald, 2014). Lee has followed this decision making model since he wanted to achieve bigger success, no matter if he has to take certain small unethical steps. As a leader he has believed that strict rules and regulations are necessary for the development of a race (Plate, 2013). Such an ethical outlook is reflected in the laws of Singapore.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Being the leader of Malaysia, Mahathir has followed the ethics of developing a clean and efficient government that can be trusted by the locales for getting a better future in terms of livelihood. He has tried to develop an ethical understanding among the civil servants. In order to achieve this, he framed a set of moral values which motivated his subordinates towards efficient service towards the state (Schottmann, 2008). He has guided his subordinates to be clean, efficient and trustworthy. In the context, unlike Singapore, the nationals of Malaysia have been provided with the freedom of making their own decisions and enjoying their autonomy, but in an ethical manner.

Role of Leadership in Building, Embedding and Evolving Culture

Leadership has a very significant role in the creating and embedding culture within a group. Primarily the cultures are embedded, by the leaders, within the concerned group with the help of mechanisms that are able to implant leadership assumptions in the contemporary daily life of the association (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). This in turn creates favorable conditions for the formulation of a new culture.

Role of Lee Kuan Yew in Developing Singaporean Culture

As the leader of the country, Lee Kuan Yew has developed the culture of Singapore as one where the activities of an individual depends on the strengths and influences of the family. Lee has developed the mindsets of the Singaporeans in such a way that they consider it to be their job to create maintain the order of the society. As a result, a culture of thrift, filial piety, hard work and respect towards elders have been built, embedded and evolved in the country (Rivard, 2017). Based on this culture, the Singaporeans crave for continuous learning thereby augmenting scholarships. These values have improved the overall productivity of the country, leading to the economic growth of the nation.

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Role of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in Developing Malaysian Culture

Having led the office of the Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad has identified that the country has the capability of developing into a highly productive economy. However, the culture of being less hardworking and losing trust held the population back from big achievements (Mustafa, 2018). It is for this reason that the leader has developed new rules and regulations so that a culture of hard work and trust can be built, embedded and evolved within the society of the country. In order to achieve his goal, Mahathir set the Japanese culture of hard work and admiration seeking outlook as an example for the Malaysians (Mustafa, 2018).

Relationship between Leadership Style and Cultural Change

The development of the core culture of an organization begins with the leadership style. This is because it is the leadership style which leads the subordinates towards development of the values of the employees and cultures of the organization (Ulrich, 2015). It is for this reason that the leaders appreciate their job roles thereby enhancing the maintenance of the culture of the association (Hayes & Watts, 2015).

Leadership Style and Cultural Change enhanced by Lee Kuan Yew

As the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew has been a servant leader who has fulfilled the duties of a public servant. Being a servant leader, Lee has placed his service before self-interest. It is evident from the leadership of the former prime minister of Singapore that Lee has always been concerned about the development of the welfare and socio-economic status, educational standards and health of the people of the country. In order to fulfill his vision, Lee initially has expressed confidence in the capabilities of the citizens thus helping them in coping up with the contemporary environmental conditions of the developing countries. In the process, he has gained an insight on the concerns, problems and requirements of the citizens thereby deciding on the course of action that can suit the people (Kwang, Fernandez & Tan, 2015). In a way, being a trustworthy person himself, Lee has developed trust among the citizens of Singapore.

Leadership Style and Cultural Change enhanced by Dr. Mahathir Mohammad

As a prime minister of a country, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad has followed a strong and decisive leadership style. As a result of this nature, Mahathir is considered to be a charismatic leader. This is because he has inspired the Malaysian people for developing into a hardworking and trustworthy community with the help of powerful and pompous attitude. This attitude of the leader has enforced the common people of Malaysia to follow the path of their leader, without much questions and cross-interrogation (Cheah, Yusof, & Ahmad, 2017). In the process, he has paved way for the unification of a group of people with diverse backgrounds. This has helped the leader in initiating the reformation process of the country, both in the administrative level and the societal level.

Solutions of Comparison

The comparison between the cultural dimensions, ethics and leadership styles followed by the former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew and the former prime minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has highlighted the fact that both the leaders have contributed much to the development of the country, but in their own ways. Lee has followed a cultural dimension of no conflicts and no wars. He has developed certain limitations on the freedom of the citizens so that they are compelled to follow his way, thereby developing the country into a first world nation. He has used the virtual ethics of decision making, thus following the path of a servant leader who has come down to the level of the commoners to understand their problems and solve the same while uplifting their livelihood. On the other hand, Mahathir has followed the cultural dimension of maturity, liberalization and tolerance in the Malaysian society. He has taught the people of the country to embrace individuals of different creeds and colors thereby helping them to adhere to their religions while developing oneness with the nationality. This in turn has helped the leader to transform the Malaysian people from a work fearing and unworthy community to a hardworking and trustworthy one. In the process he has emerged as a charismatic leader, portraying the Japanese culture as an example in front of his subordinates and helping them to develop both culturally and economically. The young and new generation leaders of both the countries need to learn from their former leaders and lead their countries towards a better future.

New Roles for Future Leaders and Leadership

From the analysis of the cultural dimensions, ethics and leadership styles of Lee Kuan Yew and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, it has been identified that both the leaders have used their own attributes to lead their countrymen towards the development of the countries. Lee has led Singapore to the level of a first world nation, while Mahathir has developed his countrymen in to a hardworking and trustworthy community. These qualities of the leaders have set a number of lessons for the future leaders of the world in their way of uplifting their community.

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The three decades’ long leadership of Lee Kuan Yew has taught the future leaders with a number of lessons. Considering the leadership style of the legend, it can be stated that the future country leaders can succeed in the process of growth and development of their nation only if they can generate autonomy in the administration process. This will provide every individual with freedom of opinion thus helping the government in the betterment of the livelihood of the community (Yew, 2012). This vision can only develop if one has the self-awareness and self-confidence to achieve the aim.

Apart from the aforementioned facts, the future leaders must be competent enough to set himself or herself as one of the commoners. In the process, the leaders need to have the ability of developing perceptive collaboration with groups of diverse backgrounds thus entailing self-governance within the country. It is due to such an outlook during his early years that has influenced Lee to develop into an outspoken champion of “Asian values” (Yew, 2012). Therefore in the light of the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew it can be suggested that the future leaders need take over the new roles of being efficient enough to overcome all obstacles coming in the way of the development of the country. This efficiency can be achieved by way of transformational leadership style. This is because this style helps the leaders in understanding the situation of the common people followed by creation of an environment which will be favorable for the people for working hard so as to achieve social and economic upliftment. As a result the countrymen will be able to inspire the global population towards the creation of a better economic and social condition (Yew, 2012). Even the modern leaders need to have the ability to groom their successors so that their vision can go a long way.

The more than two decades’ leadership of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has set a number of examples from which the future country leaders can take a lesson towards the development of their nations. One of the ethical consideration of the leader is to respect the effort of every individual in his or her own field of excellence. It is necessary for the future country leaders to have the urge of knowing more and learning new skills (Wain, 2009). As a leader, one has to work with the assistance of a number of subordinates, thereby achieving a better future for the country. In order to motivate the subordinates towards hard work, the leader shall share his or her achievement with the entire board of ministers and even the countrymen, if possible (Wain, 2009). This is because, as the Prime Minister, Mahathir has mentioned that the success of a leader lies in the success of his or her followers and that the only focus of a leader shall be to ensure the well-being of the followers.

Summary and Conclusions

Examination and association of leaderships of the country leaders are helpful in recommending the future prime ministers with ways of leading the countries towards betterment and growth. The leaderships of Lee Kuan Yew (former Prime Minister of Singapore) and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (former Prime Minister of Malaysia) have shown that both the leaders have uplifted the conditions of the countries, but in their own ways.

Lee has developed the culture of no conflicts and no war for transforming the country from a third world country to a first world one. He has followed virtual ethics during the decision making process while achieving a bigger success out of smaller illegal and unethical steps. As a result, the people of the country have learnt to consider the creation and maintenance of order in the society by way of thrift, filial piety, hard work and respect towards elders. In order to fulfill his vision, Lee expressed confidence in the capabilities of the citizens thus helping them in coping up with the contemporary environmental conditions of the developing countries.

Mahathir has followed the cultural dimensions of maturity, liberalization and tolerance in the society that can embrace people of all creeds and colors. As a result, the civil servants have developed a set of moral values which motivates them towards efficient service delivery to the state. This developed a culture of hard work and trust that can be build, embed and evolve within the society. This is because he has inspired the Malaysian people for developing into a hardworking and trustworthy community with the help of the charisma of Mahathir.

The future leaders need to have the intention of creating an autonomous administrative process thus providing every countrymen with freedom of opinion. Also, the future country leaders should have the ability of developing shrewd collaboration with partners. Moreover, entailing of self-governance within the country can pave way towards a better future of the nation. Such a leadership can be expected to serve as an example for the global governance.

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