Inspiring and Empowering the Next Generation to Lead Change

An interview with Daisie Yip, Consultant with the Ministry of Education, NTU/NIE and NIE International

Can you share the relevance of inspiring and empowering the Next Generation?

We are on an on-going journey with NO pause from the next generation and the Next Generation will inherit and shape the future of our little RED DOT – Singapore! What makes Singapore – a Nation, is people, which is our precious assets. Everyone needs to be a leader! For everyone to be a leader, there must first be self-leadership; then they can be the transformational change agent, the mover, the shaker, more importantly to have a heart focusing on quality relationship as a key-gel factor.

Could you share why you think quality relationships are key to our future?

My sharing comes from a personal education belief and commitment to its journey of continuous learning as an education officer.

Let me first define this Next Generation as from Gen X through to the Millennials to Gen Z, and then to the Alpha generation, which is really young. Though very young, they are not to be ignored. The need to start preparing them within the home, the kindergartens to go forth into the everchanging landscape.

You may ask me: “Why include so many generations?” – It is because, Gen X is the generation who will be nurturing and shaping and impacting the Millennials, Gen Z and the Alpha, and so forth. What this really means is that all generations are ONE big system that are intertwined, connected like a web; every move will affect the other. The key learning for us is to understand and engage the different generation personalities and preferred learning styles.

What does it mean to say a move in one generation affects another?

We are system moving forward into the Singapore future, this means Gen X shares and hands over to the Millennials and so forth. This is an ongoing process where we pass down values, traditions, culture, the way we do things, etc. through the generations.

Understanding this, the one key skill we need to have at every generation is the ability to: Anticipate, Adopt and Adapt to Change. We need to grow LEADERS of Change in order to do well and thrive in the future of an everchanging world. Just look at how the COVID pandemic turned our lives upside down!

How can we recognize that there is a need to Anticipate, Adopt and Adapt to Change?

Changes came, come, and will come in droves by the minutes. Hence, to lead and manage change, we need the skills and steadfastness to remain calm, collected and to be able to think rationally. After all, we are all responsible and accountable in shaping the future. All adults, including leaders, parents and anyone who makes a difference must seek to understand the aspirations of the next generation. We seek to understand learning preferences of the millennials and Gen Z through respecting their worldviews, engaging them in explaining the constraints and dialoguing with them why some things are not implemented due to resources, or safety, etc. Basically, it is involving them in the learnings.

We need to give of our best to the millennials and Gen Z through to the Alphas in this systemic move of inspiring a desire to keep learning, instilling a mindset that takes ownership of learning, willingness to test assumptions and making a difference. No matter how small and little the differences may seem, they can lead to BIG culture change.

What is Learning like? What, When and How can we empower the Next Generation to Lead Change?

Again, I must reiterate that currently adults, leaders and people who make a difference must understand the aspirations of the young generation. I found the Levels of Perspective a very practical and useful tool to empower and lead change from Individual to organization.

Let me share the Greenridge story…

When I started Greenridge Primary School in Bukit Panjang, we suffered a poor image as the school functioned with a few classes on 3 different sites with no actual school building. We had 2 groups of 4 classes each in Bukit Panjang and 1 group of 8 classes in Chua Chu Kang. Parents who registered their children in Greenridge were forced to, as there were no more vacancies in the other schools.

With us separated in 3 different locations, as the Principal then, I knew I needed an effective team of teacher leaders to be self-directed and empowered to make decisions. For this to happen, I had to use relevant tools, like: LOP (Levels of Processing), ORID (Objective, Reflective, Interpretative, Decision), and GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) Model to guide me to empower and lead change. I ensure that definite time is set aside to meet with all stakeholders regularly to set clear vision and attainable objectives. These were paired with providing the necessary guidance, supporting with resources, giving affirmations, defining successes with attainable and realistic goals, and celebrating whatever successes little successes attained.

Let me reinforce this with an inspiring example. When a young millennial teacher came to me with a dream of how to enhance the school’s image, through her passion – the school band, which is the pride of the school and acknowledged by the community and the Ministry of Education (MOE).

I used the Levels of Perspective and plotted our action plans together on how we might make this dream comes through:

  • Shared Vision – What is it? Our Goal & Objective
  • Mental Model – What are my people’s assumption – current and future?
  • What are the Systemic Structures that are shaping this pattern of behavior outcome?
  • Patterns of behavior – current behavior over time that are indicators of the pattern of behavior
  • Events – What is the current reality?

With this in mind, remember that empowerment as a system means you need to inspire change at every level. With the end goal in mind, what does it look like?

  • For the Teachers – their pupils are happy and achieving their personal best. There will be long queues waiting to register their children at the school.
  • For the Pupils (then in P2) – Want the band to play at the World Cup (1998) and in Disneyland
  • For the Parents – School can attain good PSLE results so that the children can qualify for popular Secondary schools. We also met with the parents to share their children’s dreams and their roles in making the dream come true for their children. Parents were supportive in affirming their children’s dream, in return the children also need to honor by studying hard to attain good results
  • For the Band master and Teacher In-Charge – They are empowered with support of resources for him to teach and prepare the band
  • The Principal’s role ultimately is to find the resource to empower by providing the skills

Fast forward to the outcome – Greenridge Primary School was invited by Disneyland Paris to perform as part of the World Cup in 1998.

What would be one key takeaway that you want to inspire us with to lead change?

Inspire a Shared Vision and move forward as a Team.

To lead change, we need to teach our people to ASK (Attitude, Skills, Knowledge) questions on the situation, or the challenge, or the personnel. Then provide the guidance, resources and encouragement along the way.

We should all aspire to lead Learning Organizations where people see the big picture ahead and are constantly learning, creating towards a new future.



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