Seen and heard this week


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


Associate Professor James Crabtree from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS was invited by CNBC on 23 October to share his views on Brexit and another possible UK cabinet reshuffle. Assoc Prof Crabtree opined that it is unlikely that UK Prime Minister Theresa May will be ousted before the Brexit deadline in March 2019 as whoever is wielding the knife may calculate that it is best for Ms May to see the issue through due to the tight timeline involved. However, the situation is very volatile and people are definitely thinking more seriously about a leadership challenge, he added. It also remains to be seen if Ms May can garner the votes needed to push legislation on Northern Ireland and other remaining issues through the House of Commons in time.

Answering the question of whether class sizes matter in The Straits Times on 24 October, Dr Kelvin Seah from NUS Economics highlighted several earlier studies carried out by various researchers on the issue with differing outcomes. Dr Seah said that even though reducing class size may improve student learning as teachers are better able to engage in higher value teaching activities with fewer disruptions, it does not mean that Singapore should necessarily go ahead with it. Reducing class size comes at substantial cost — such as hiring more teachers and building more infrastructure — and it is important that policymakers ask if the projected benefits outweigh the costs.

In a Money FM podcast in The Straits Times on 25 October, Dr Jovina Ang from NUS Business shared insights from her book Leadership Communication: Connect. Engage. Inspire. to illustrate the importance of leaders being personal in their communication with employees. Human beings are wired to connect, she said, and studies have shown that employees take to leaders who are warm, authentic, as well as competent. Dr Ang also addressed the importance of body language and non-verbal cues — for instance “playing low” when leaders want to be approachable and solicit ideas, and “playing high” to instil a sense of urgency during a crisis — as well as how leaders can use social media to establish multi-way communication channels with employees.

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