Lee Kuan Yew

Topics: Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, Leadership Pages: 8 (2126 words) Published: May 21, 2014

1. Historical Background of the Leader

Lee Kuan Yew was born a British subject in at Kampong Java Road Singapore on September 16, 1923. He was born to Lee Chin Koon, an English-educated and a British subject, and Chua Jim Neo. He had three brothers and a sister namely, Dennis Lee, who was able to put up a law firm with Lee Kuan Yew called Lee & Lee, Freddy Lee, a stockbroker, Lee Suan Yew, who read medicine at the University of Cambridge, and Monica Lee. Lee Kuan Yew got married to Kwa Geok Choo on September 30, 1950. They had two sons, Lee Hsien Loong, who became a Prime Minister in Singapore, and Lee Hsien Yang, who was a former President and Chief Executive Officer of SingTel. They also had a daughter named Lee Wei Ling, who runs the National Neuroscience Institute.

He first studied at Telok Kurau Primary School, which he perceived as a school whose primary students were poor and not as bright and advantaged. He moved to Raffles Institution, where he was challenged because he was surrounded with the top 150 students in Singapore. Despite this, he still strived to get into the top of his class. On his junior year, he studied in Cambridge where he was able to receive scholarships and top position for the School Certificate examinations. Lee also received a scholarship for Raffles College (National University of Singapore) where he obtained the top student position for both Singapore and Malaya. When the Japanese arrived in Singapore, Lee’s university education was delayed. He used this time to learn Japanese and work as a clerk in a textile importing company. He also put up his own business where he manufactured stationery glue. When the war finished, Lee continued his studies in London School of Economics and afterwards moved to University of Cambridge. Here, he took up law at Fitzwilliam College and graduated with a double First Class Honors, an award that is rarely received.

After taking up his graduate degree, he returned to Singapore to work as a lawyer. He was offered a job in John Laycock’s law firm, which he served as a legal advisor to the trade and students’ union. He also worked as an election agent for the company, and this is where he encountered politics. Eventually, he was able to work is way to the top and he became the first Prime Minister of Singapore on June 3, 1959. During his term, he was able to make third world country, Singapore, to a first world country.1

2. Application of Edwin Locke’s Framework


3. Leadership Styles
Covey’s Transformational vs. Transactional
Lee Kuan Yew was more of a transformational leader. He involved changing the organization and its members for the better. He motivated his subordinates to work for “higher level” goals that allegedly transcend their personal interests. He shaped and drove Singapore’s development, catapulting the city-state from a Third World backwater, to the front ranks of the First World. An example for this would be when he wanted to lower down the unemployment rate. He decided that change was necessary and they specifically needed to get manufacturing sectors put up in Singapore then sent back to America. This resulted to them running and exporting within months, which solved their unemployment problem. Another example would be the time when he inspired the polyglot population to become the intellectual and technical center of the region. This resulted then to becoming a major player in the international economic market. Lee Kuan Yew was able to transform Singapore drastically by appealing to his followers’ values and sense of higher purpose to execute his vision for a new and improved Singapore. He was also able to align his vision accordingly with his followers, which can be seen in a testimony saying that Lee has created a tiny island of three million who constantly strive to improve.7

Schmidt and Tannebaum’s Continuum
Lee Kuan Yew’s style is nearing the Laissez Faire leadership. He shares...
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