The Role of Sociocultural Context in the Leader–Follower Relationship: An Analysis of Lee Kuan Yew’s Authentic Transformational Leadership

  • Deborah Pembleton
  • John Friend
  • Zhiyuan He
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Leadership and Followership book series (PASTLEFO)


Through a strong vision, authentic transformational leaders inspire followers to transcend their own self-interests for the good of the group. While the characteristics underlying authentic transformational leadership have received attention, less emphasis has been placed on how and under what conditions transformational leadership achieves authenticity within the leader–follower relationship. Taking a case study approach, this chapter assesses Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership style, specifically his ‘Asian Values’ vision. By addressing the sociocultural contexts in which authentic transformational leadership occurs, we argue that Lee’s leadership style ultimately failed because his vision was incongruent with the ontologies and values of other societies in Asia, resulting in a message that appeared inauthentic. This chapter concludes with recommendations for making authentic transformational leadership more functional across different cultural contexts.


Authenticity Leadership Culture Asian Values Lee Kuan Yew 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Pembleton
    • 1
  • John Friend
    • 2
  • Zhiyuan He
    • 3
  1. 1.Global Business Leadership DepartmentCollege of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s UniversityCollegevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceCollege of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s UniversityCollegevilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political Science and Department of Global Business LeadershipCollege of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s UniversityCollegevilleUSA

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