DISCUSSION 21st Century Statesmanship: What leadership means for organisations in a changing world

by Yolanda Villafuerte _______25th June 2015

On Friday 26th June 2015, in Singapore a small group of business leaders take part in the latest in a series of dialogues held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death. The lunch is being hosted by Telos Partners and Tomorrow’s Company, partners on the Business & Finance Panel of Churchill 2015 –21st Century Statesmanship Global Leaders Programme. Christine Sim, the Singapore Ambassador for Tomorrows Company, has been working closely with both organisations to achieve this. The ideas and conclusions from the Business and Finance Panel discussions will be part of a larger report, which will be published online in September 2015.



2015 is the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death. To ensure the continuation of his unique legacy, a number of organisations have come together in the UK to establish ‘Churchill 2015 – 21st Century Statesmanship Global Leaders Programme’. For more information please follow this link.

2015 is also the year of Lee Kuan Yew’s passing and the influence of his inspirational leadership and unique legacy extends well beyond Singapore. This is why the Singapore dialogue has been extended to consider his legacy.

Under the patronage of former UK Prime Minister Sir John Major, business leaders, academics & policy makers will be discussing the key strategic issues facing tomorrow’s leaders at a series of senior level panel discussions. These include geopolitics, defence, the environment, technology, media, culture and religion.

Together these panels aim to use the unique legacy of leadership bequeathed to us by Sir Winston Churchill to raise public consciousness and debate around key global issues and to redefine leadership across the spectrum of our 21st century society. Seventeen panels will each produce a 15 page recommendations-focused report for global leaders. They will be published collectively in a digital book that will be downloadable free to all. On 23rd October in London’s Guildhall Lord George Robertson, former NATO Secretary General, will chair a culminating seminar focusing on the next steps and action agenda, and the skill sets required of 21st century leaders and statesmen and women.

In the Business and Finance panel, we are asking for help in identifying the key issues and the gaps.

The Churchill Leadership Legacy

Among the ways in which Winston Churchill was remarkable in his approach to leadership:

– He started his leadership of the nation by building belief in the possibility of victory and the impossibility of defeat.

– He created unity around the ultimate goal and had no patience for subordinates who fought ‘turf wars’ between different branches of the armed forces.

– While fighting an immediate crisis he kept his eyes on the long term – for example encouraging Attlee, Beveridge Butler and others in developing plans for post-war Britain.

– He saw and thought in terms of the global picture, and all the interdependencies – for example the changing situation in Japan.

– He insisted on giving those who reported to him a clear and written mandate so that they knew their authority and its limits – on occasions he was extremely unhappy with the technical judgements made by Navy, Army and Air Force Chiefs of Staff but did not overrule them.

– He chose to get close to the smell and feel of battle – for example during the German invasion of France in 1940 he insisted on flying out to meet the joint high command in France and he regularly inspired civilians by visits to the scenes of destruction in the Blitz.

– He saw the importance of disruptive technology, for example encouraging his Scientific Advisor to assemble a high-powered group of young scientists.

– He drew strength from the emotions and values of the people he led – he saw himself as their servant and his great speeches as articulating what they cared about.

In the Singapore event we are adding questions about the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew.

The Lee Kuan Yew Leadership Legacy

– At the core of his successful leadership over such a long period was a burning ambition for an independent, safe and self-reliant Singapore, shaped by his experiences during the Japanese occupation.

– He was fiercely determined – once he believed that something was worthwhile, he would always see it though and everyone around him knew that. He made his moment of ‘greatest anguish’ (Singapore’s expulsion from the Federation of Malaysia), a turning point for Singapore’s fortunes.

– He started by building a team of the most talented individuals who shared his ambition and were always 100% supportive of each other. Together they built the infrastructure of the Singapore Government.

– He created a sense of belonging for the Singapore people, by developing the shared values of multi-racialism, equality, meritocracy, integrity and rule of law. He was unwavering in his living of these values.

– He had an extraordinary ability to connect with his people – they had an emotional commitment borne out of a deep respect and trust for his character.

– He was a visionary who set long term goals, and had an ability to understand the implications and connect any external influences.

– Long term planning was always combined with flawless execution – his urban planning programme to create the ‘city in a garden’ concept was one of the best examples of this.

– One his greatest legacies is the way he ensured that Singapore continues to survive and thrive without being reliant on one individual – his careful grooming of successors for himself and other cabinet positions was a critical part of this process.


Telos Partners has been a corporate member of Tomorrow’s Company from the beginning, and Peter Ward was closely involved in the development of the original 1995 report ‘Tomorrow’s Company – the role of business in a changing world’.

Christine Sim has been Tomorrow’s Company’s Singapore Ambassador for the last six years.


For more details please contact:

Yolanda Villafuerte (Tomorrow’s Company, yolanda@tomorrowscompany.com)

David Jones (for Telos Partners in Singapore, djones@telospartners.com)