Meritocracy is about leading others, not winning

The purpose of meritocracy is to unite and not divide the people, to advance the common interest and not serve personal interests (Meritocracy and its toll on our students; Jan 9).

It is meant to raise the tide for all to achieve a better standard of living.

Therefore meritocracy should not be about winning, but instead be about leading others.

Focusing on winning creates a zero-sum game, by forging ahead and achieving better results at the expense of others who are left behind.

On the other hand, leading is about playing a positive-sum game - leading others in the process of leading oneself.

It is about sharing the responsibility of helping others who may not enjoy the same advantages, and producing better results while reaching out to help others raise their levels.

There is no need for unhealthy competition and to always be ahead of others.

The end result of playing a positive-sum game is that both the leader and his team can accomplish more and make a more positive impact on the environment around them.

Effective and compassionate meritocracy is about recognising and honouring leaders who serve a greater good.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2019, with the headline 'Meritocracy is about leading others, not winning'. Print Edition | Subscribe