Leadership hurts

Performance Appraisals

CW Fong
2 min readApr 7, 2022


Leadership is not easy! As leaders we are called upon to make decisions that have consequences. And, when the decision impacts the people that we are entrusted to lead, leaders feel pain.

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I shared in an earlier article that April is traditionally a low month for the Singapore Public Service as performance gradings are announced. Naturally, there will be those who are happy that their talents and contributions were recognized, but for the majority there will be questions …. and accusations.

Given that performance appraisals are subjective opinions and performance grades awarded are relative as there are quotas, as leaders, we have to make choices on who to recognize and reward. But these choices come with trade-offs, and we need to deal with the consequential fall-out because we cannot recognize everyone, and everyone believes that they are more deserving than the other person.

My approach to dealing with this trade-off is to rely on my conscience — similar to how, as the Junior Disciplinary Officer in the Army, I had to sentence men to detention for rule infractions. I only asked them two questions: (a) did you know it was against the rules; and (b) did you do it. If the answer to both questions was yes, my conscience was clear and I did my duty and meted out the punishment.

“the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good”

When it comes to delivering poor performance grades, I use the same approach. I ask myself whether I told the officer beforehand that he/ she was unlikely to rank well, and what they needed to do to rank better? If I did, and they did not do what they needed, then they made the choice. The failure is theirs and my conscience is clear.

As a leader, I strive to have a clear conscience in everything that I do. Without that as my North Star, I don’t think I would be able to deal with the pain of leadership.



CW Fong

I blog therefore I am. Passionate about #Singapore, #Leadership, #PublicRelations, #SocialMedia, #Marketing, and #PersonalDevelopment. Above all, I do no evil

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