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HR debate gets racial, as calls made to usurp foreign managers

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Ben Abbott | 06 Mar 2015, 07:25 AM Agree 0
Calls have been made for human resources to play a greater role in developing future leaders from the stock of local Singaporeans, rather than foreigners
  • ryan | 06 Mar 2015, 12:14 PM Agree 0
    Use of the term "Racial" is inaccurate and misleading. Singapore in itself comprises multiple racial groups, and even within that racial identity is evolving. Low Thia Kiang meant "local" - in that it's problematic for Singapore if leadership positions in Singapore are not held by locals, regardless of their racial identity.
    This is a valid HR and talent issue seen through a local politician - but the second half of the article diverts into topic around blue collar labor. HRD should have tackled it rather than just cut-and-paste soundbites and use inaccurate headlines.
  • DSC44 | 07 Mar 2015, 12:28 AM Agree 0
    Ryan is 100% correct it is not a 'racial' issue it is an issue of nationalism. The UAE has put in place a law to correct having none UAE citizens as corporate executive by stating all leadership positions, by a certain date, will have to be filled with UAE nationals. That approach would not work or be appropriate in Singapore.

    What compounds this issue is the programs in place in many Singaporean companies. The leadership development programs are based on a fundamental flaw. For many reasons HR and Learning and Development leaders in Southeast Asia have he misconception that there is such a think as 'best practices' or 'best in class' programs and approaches for leadership development. These are usually based on what is done in North America (the US in particular). Those programs are based on specific leadership behaviours. Those behaviours are based on the authors' definition of the right behaviours for leadership. That is based on behaviours right for the United States. Those are not always the right behaviours for Singapore or Southeast Asia. In fact some of those behaviours are counter productive in Singapore. So buying the off the shelf leadership program from a North American based consulting or leadership firm companies in Singapore perpetuate the only people that are successful at leading are not locals.

    This issue is further deepened when Southeast Asian firms believe that they can buy off the shelf behavioural competency models that are validated because of transferable validation; meaning if it worked in one company it will work in another. Yes, that is true only if the company is the same company that generated the competency model! As soon as the values, culture, strategic business plan and the company history is different then the behaviours HAVE to be different; even for firms in the same geographic location and in the same business.

    In short

    1. The wording of the headline is 'sensationalism' not honest journalism.

    2. When the leadership development programs are based on Western behavioural companies for leadership they will perpetuate people from outside of Singapore being the 'best fit' for leadership.

    3. That not building competency models inside the company but using, as a foundation, models from Western consultancies that have initially built their model in North America, will also mean development programs that do not take into account what it means to be a successful leader in a company based in Singapore.
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