Exploring the subject of leadership

As we move through the year, we continue to explore the role of leaders to create shifts in the world and ask the question “who are the leaders we need?”

Through the course of our work around the world, we’ve taken the opportunity to ask a variety of people from different contexts about their take is on the subject of leadership.

Yee Tong, is a social entrepreneur and Director of The Thought Collective, a network of social enterprises, based in Singapore. From his experience of working with youth leadership, his response to the question, “what does it take for an individual to find their leadership?” is that there are three key elements that all have to come into play:



  1. The narrative and identity of the individual – what is the story you live of yourself
  2. The competence of the individual – what is the skillset you hold that allows you to be a leader
  3. The permission they feel they have in the culture to take on leadership

He shared a great little story to illustrate what he means:

“I’m walking along a road and I hear a scream, I turn around and I see someone drowning in a pool. If I say, ‘He’s not my son. That’s not my problem.’ Then that’s the narrative. So I’m saying that I’m only responsible for my family and I’m not responsible [for this child]. And so, I don’t solve it. The second thing is, ‘Can I swim?’ So even if I do care, can I at least swim if I jump in? Third, ‘Is it my pool? Do I have permission to jump into this pool?’.”

Our reflection is that these are questions we can ask ourselves and, where relevant, of leaders we work with.

  • What’s the story and my role here?
  • What competence exists?
  • What permission is there to act?