SICC | Singapore International Chamber Of Commerce | Raffles Quay – The voice of international business in Singapore
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22 AUG 2023  |  ISSUE 467

Dear Members and Friends

What are the key lessons for businesses from this year’s National Day Rally (NDR)? For the benefit of newly arrived businesspeople in Singapore, the NDR features a speech by our Prime Minister. It is the most consequential, political speech of the year. It outlines our government’s plans for the years ahead.

Put simply, the key lessons for all of us in business from this year’s NDR are to be both responsible and responsive leaders.

What does being responsible in business mean? It means always acting with integrity. When things go wrong – as they sometimes will because we are all just imperfect humans– we should act expeditiously with transparency and accountability. Being responsible ultimately means we care: about our businesses, teams, customers, suppliers, vendors and our community. We care because we want to achieve positive outcomes for everyone.

One wish the Chamber has is for more businesses to outlaw ageism in hiring. It is fine to have assumptions and biases – we all do. But, for goodness sake, test your assumptions and biases by interviewing suitably qualified candidates regardless of their age. Just as the government is making plans to enable our super ageing society to live with dignity, grace and purpose, so we in business need to do our bit to enable dignity and purpose by employing people regardless of their age. Every business should employ people based on their attitude, character, capabilities and potential NOT their age!

What does being responsive in business mean? It means listening to what is important to your teams and finding ways to address issues while always acting in the best, long term interests of your business and all the people who work in it. We are fortunate to have a government that consults widely, listens, debates and thinks before it acts. It would be positively transformational if more business leaders did the same.

Think about your organization’s culture. Ask yourself is it fit for purpose - not for you as the business owner or leader - but for the people you depend on to execute and achieve your business plans. Ask yourself, am I seeing greater people churn? Are people unhappy and, if so, what are they unhappy about? Ask yourself, am I fit for purpose? What do I have to change about myself to enable others to succeed? This is not awkward nor is it easy but it is necessary to make you, your business and your teams achieve your best selves. More than that, it is necessary to enable you and your business to survive.

If you have not already done so, it is time ladies and gentlemen to find a new spirit based on the values on which our republic is founded to take you and your business to the next level and to help our society do the same. Our government cannot do everything. It has led the way, it has provided an example and now is the time for all of us to be both responsible and responsive leaders whatever our job function.

Majulah Singapura!

Yours faithfully
Victor Mills
Chief Executive

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