Leaders must be on the ground to gauge true sentiments

It is easy to be carried away with our own voice and see only what we want to see ("How pollsters could have missed the mark so widely"; last Thursday).

Thus, it is imperative that leaders rely on varied sources for the sentiments on the ground.

Nothing remains static. Leaders need to walk the ground, even doing it impromptu at times, so as to get the latest and the "realest". Only by being there and lending a true listening ear can a leader be with the people.

Feedback must not be filtered. Only when a leader reaches out to the people will he be trusted and perceived to genuinely care.

A great takeaway from the United States election is that we should not take anything for granted.

Anything can happen. The most vocal may not represent the majority. Not all people with grievances show their dissatisfaction. Not all the disenchanted know how to seek redress or choose to do so. Not all agendas in the public domain represent the people.

Not all straw polls, albeit done in a scientific manner, represent the population. Not all experts, public figures and endorsers can be relied upon for sentiments on the ground.

Therefore, leaders must take the pulse on the ground by being with the people regularly.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Leaders must be on the ground to gauge true sentiments'. Print Edition | Subscribe