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Nathaniel Josiah Tang: Leading and Inspiring by Example

As part of the Sophia Blackmore Leadership Programme, Nathaniel Josiah Tang from Secondary 3E reflected on his leadership positions in both the Student Council and Boys’ Brigade. For many, being a leader seems to mean having an official position. However, Nathaniel would like to help all students to understand that leadership is not limited to official titles, but rather is dependent on how we choose to conduct ourselves. (This speech was delivered in April 2021 during morning assembly.)

Nathaniel’s Speech

Good morning Ms Chen, Mr Lim Sin Heng, Mr Alan Lim, teachers and friends. I am Nathaniel Tang from Secondary 3E. Today, as part of the Sophia Blackmore Leadership programme, I will be sharing with you one core practice from Kouzes and Posner’s ‘The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model’: Model the Way. At this point, many of you must be asking, “Nathaniel, what exactly is Model the Way?” That is a good question and hopefully, my sharing this morning will give you a better understanding of what it means.  

Leadership is not about personality. Rather, it is about behaviour and about setting an example for others to follow. Leaders behave in the same way as they would like others to behave. It is the act of genuinely embracing and displaying one’s values to those around them. Leaders do not become flustered when things go wrong. Instead, leaders demonstrate optimism and remain composed when faced with such setbacks and challenges. 

As leaders, we are often called upon to do many things. More often than not, that includes leading a team. This comes with expectations from our team members. Thus, we as leaders need to set high standards and be a role model for our team members to follow. When we are hypocritical and do not live by the standards that we ourselves set, it is going to be difficult for us to be effective leaders. 

How then can we be good role models? Firstly, we must set realistic goals for ourselves to achieve and live out. We should not demand others to do what we ourselves cannot achieve. A realistic goal represents an objective which we are willing and able to work towards, one that we have a realistic chance of achieving. Realistic goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (i.e. S.M.A.R.T.). 

This leads me to my next point: we need to be conscious of how we live our lives. Whether we are inside or outside the classroom, in CCA, or even outside of school, we have to constantly and consistently abide by our values. For example, if our leader tells us not to use vulgarities, we will listen to them. However, we will first expect our leaders to role-model the same values. If we as leaders cannot even accomplish this, how can we expect others to do it in the first place?

People are more likely to act if they see their leader ‘walking the talk’. As James Kouzes and Barry Posner put it, “When people see you doing what you say, then they have the evidence that you mean it. Otherwise, it’s just words. Your actions send the loudest signals about what other people should be doing.” 

So, what is the one thing that we as leaders can do daily from now on to start this good practice? Take some time to think about the goals you aim to achieve this year. How can you, from there, become an even better leader? Once you have decided on the goal, adhere to it. Then, you can lead by example and be an exemplary role model so as to influence the people around you.