Gen Y Calls for Genuine Leadership Skills; Singapore Results

Gen Y Calls For Genuine Leadership Skills

Gen Y Calls for Genuine Leadership Skills

Singapore may be known for its strong economy, modern infrastructure, and exceptional standard of living; but it’s also home to a lot of unhappy employees. According to data collected in 2016, Singapore has one of the highest rates of job dissatisfaction in the Asia Pacific region, with workers citing bad leadership as their main source of discontent.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. With Gen Y calling for more genuine leadership skills, Singaporeans can expect to see positive changes in the workplace – but only if their managers are willing to listen and adapt.

What does Gen Y want?

This is a generation of job seekers that know exactly what they want in a leader. To engage with younger applicants, leadership teams will need to demonstrate an increasingly diverse range of skills, including:

Authentic Leadership

Primary research conducted by Chandler Macleod has shown 13.89% of Gen Y workers regard confidence, charisma and personality as the most important characteristics of a successful manager. This tells us that leadership that isn’t genuine or isn’t ‘real’ just won’t cut it in Singapore’s modern-day work culture. By failing to act authentically, managers may find it difficult to connect with their employees, resulting in higher turnover rates and lower levels of job satisfaction.

Rather than imitating ‘typical’ managerial behaviours, unique management styles can be used to encourage the development of genuine relationships in the workplace. Rather than being perceived as ‘soft’, leaders who practise authenticity can achieve results without alienating themselves from their team.

Not sure what constitutes authenticity? Here’s a quick characteristic guide:

  • Encouraging different character traits within teams

  • Recognising employees for their work

  • Consistency in all work-related matters

  • Placing trust in employees

  • Self-awareness


When it comes to communication in the workplace, data indicates that Singaporean leaders could do more to encourage open and honest discussions. In a survey of 34 countries, Singapore ranked 4th last in terms of job satisfaction, with over 40% of respondents admitting to being discontent at work. In the same survey, Singaporean employees (in particular women) were found to be the second-least likely to do something about their lack of job satisfaction. These statistics indicate a tendency amongst Singaporeans to avoid voicing their frustrations at work, reflecting a chronic lack of communication.

In terms of younger employees, 58.33% of Gen Y employees in Singapore chose “providing guidance and direction to team members” as the most important quality in a leader, demonstrating a desire for improved communication in the workplace. While it may take time for improved communication to flow-on and increase job satisfaction, it is an investment worth making – it costs very little to exchange information and provide guidance, but the benefits of having a happy workforce have been well researched and documented.

People Skills

Good communication and good people skills go hand-in-hand. People skills refer to the attributes that allow for positive interactions between managers and employees. They can be demonstrated through a broad range of behaviours, including:

  • Displays of empathy

  • Collaboration

  • Conflict management

  • Inspiring trust

  • Patience

  • The ability to place trust in others

  • Listening skills

These skills may sound simple, but actually applying them amidst the chaos of everyday working environments can be tricky. Nevertheless, as Gen Y’s influence continues to spread throughout the Singaporean workplaces, people skills will likely become increasingly important.

The significance Gen Y places on people skills sets them apart from other age groups in the workforce. Instead of regarding it as a bonus when their managers have advanced people skills, this trait is now the expectation. Gen Y have long been told they need to display advanced people skills in the workplace – it’s only natural for them to want to see their leaders demonstrating these same skills.

Common workplace challenges

In order to make the most of genuine leadership skills, it’s essential to identify obstacles that could be preventing their development. These are just some of the factors that may be stopping employees in Singapore from enjoying the full benefits of effective leadership.

Work/Life Balance

A healthy work/life balance remains elusive in many parts of the world, but it’s especially hard to find in Singapore. In general, positions fall into one of the following categories:

  • Lucrative, but inflexible 

  • Less lucrative, but more flexible 

This lack of flexibility leaves many Singaporeans unable to divide their time evenly between work and home. In fact, research has found that 47% of the workforce regard their work/life balance as “awful”. Implementing genuine leadership skills is bound to be difficult in this kind of environment, and shouldn’t be considered a magic cure for work/life balance issues. However, effective management can be a great tool to encourage disillusioned Gen Y’ers to emotionally invest in their workplace, building loyalty and helping reduce high turnover rates.

How managers can deliver

In a nutshell, open communications, better people skills and authenticity are at the top of the Gen Y wish list. To actually deliver these skills, managers can take the following steps.

  • Invest in workers – spend time with your team and listen closely to their feedback. Allowing your workers to actively contribute to change can make them feel empowered.

  • Encourage open and honest discussions – in the absence of meaningful dialogue, developing effective leadership skills will be impossible.

  • Look into the practicalities of flexible hours – even if you can’t reduce workload or hours worked, having the option to spread the hours throughout the day differently can make a difference.

  • Don’t be afraid to ‘manage differently’ – even if your methods are slightly unconventional, playing to personal strengths (while being mindful of the above skills) can often get more out of teams and contribute to overall business growth.

When it comes to developing effective leadership skills, the sooner you start, the better. Singapore’s employment issues are indicative of societal and economic structures that have been in place for decades, but sometimes all it takes is a bold group of leaders to make an impact. To become a force for positive change in your workplace, start practising genuine leadership skills today.

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