Even though I don’t normally write about politics, I have on occasion in my Twitter feed, lamented our political leaders' disappointing lack of vision for the nation, civilisation and the advancement thereof. Our votes are often more about punishing an out-going party than voting for the truly compelling vision of the in-coming one.

The same vision-challenge applies to the business world. A business that lacks vision is doomed to run in an infinite loop or to blinder around blindly – until some external change is force upon it.

The prime minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, has recently set a new low in leadership vision fail. And in an election year no less!

This is what he had to say at the National University of Singapore's Students' Political Association forum: "... a two-party system will not work in Singapore ... because the talent pool in Singapore is not deep enough for two parties to have top quality candidates. " -- I-S Magazine no. 555 15 Apr 2011. My emphasis.

Even as a non-Singaporean I was greatly offended by this comment. Even if Mr Lee were correct, and Singapore's talent pool is indeed a mere puddle, this is still a damning statement for any leader to make.

Imagine the leader of a corporation making the same public declaration! What will that do for morale, for team togetherness, for vision buy-in, for excellence, for commitment and achievement? If my employer declared this about my team, I'd be looking for another job pronto. Forget innovation methinks.

And how will shareholders respond? How will the market and potential investors respond? Would you buy any products from a company that openly declared its lack of talent?

As a leader (of a business, or a nation), it is part of your job to create a compelling, inspirational, and positive vision for your people to buy into and work together towards. To condemn and put down those very people is appallingly arrogant. It shows poor judgement and possibly indicates alienation from your people.

In this case, a good dose of "management by walking around" is probably in order – lots and lots and lots of walking in the case of Mr Lee.

(This was written in April 2011. Just to be on the safe side, I have delayed posting until I am well and truly out of the country.)