Wanted in Jamaica: A leader with vision and focus
Lynden Bolt, Contributor
Jamaica appears to be headed toward another quagmire. The question is why? The answer is: a lack of leadership. We know from research that leaders share three common qualities: Vision of the future that excites others and generates a willingness to follow them; Great leaders also help their followers to focus on the small number of key priorities that will take them from where they are today to the desired future, articulated in the leader's vision; Finally, great leaders are able to win the hearts as well as the minds of their followers. They generate a sense among followers that they truly understand and care about the fate of those who follow them.
Examples of these characteristics of great leadership are not hard to find.
Martin Luther King energised an entire generation of African-Americans with his 'I have a dream' speech, a declaration that spelled out in graphic detail a compelling vision of the future he saw for his children and, by extension, for all African-Americans.
Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of General Electric (GE), was famous for his constant focus on the mantra that each of GE's businesses must be number one or number two in their markets. This was the path to greatness that he had mapped out for GE, and everyone in the company knew it, understood it, and acted on it.
Finally, Bill Clinton was a master of the common touch. He has been described as the greatest natural politician in the history of the United States for his ability to connect personally with people of all walks of life. Clinton could say "I feel your pain" in a way that made others believe that he truly did.
Peter Phillips has disappointed many Jamaicans. His key failings are his inability to create any sense of confidence that he knows how to get us from where we are today to a more desirable future. And, even if he does know, he is likely to change his mind regarding his key priorities the next time he is confronted with a new issue or interest group.
Omar Davies suffers on two fronts. First, he has failed to articulate a clear vision of what he stands for. While he perceived himself to be the 'anointed one', most people are not willing to throw their support behind him without a clear sense of where it is he wants to lead us.
In fact, many people are somewhat frightened with where they think he might want to go with his microeconomic policy to further blight Jamaica's future prospects. People are, in fact, afraid that he has a vision; yet, it's not one that he is willing to spell out quite
clearly, because many people may disagree with it.
Davies also has trouble with the common touch. While he wins some people's minds, he wins few of our hearts. He may well be a compassionate and caring person, but, as a leader, he has not been able to communicate that sense of compassion and identification to the average Jamaican.
Portia Simpson Miller comes out quite well on two of the dimensions of leadership, which accounts for her positive coverage by Mark Wignall and the average Jamaican. 'Sister P' has a Utopian vision of the type of country she would like to lead. While capable of reaching out to the people in ways which make them feel understood and appreciated, she, however, suffers when it comes to laying out the plan of getting from the real world of today to the idealised future of Jamaica. She seems to have a vision of sorts and knows where she would like to take us, and she can connect with many people in a personal way. However, what she is unable to demonstrate to people is that she has a viable plan.
advice for aspirants
So, what advice can we provide to the three aspirants (not exclusive of Karl Blythe) based on our knowledge of successful leaders? They all need to communicate a clear sense of priorities. They need to tell Jamaicans the small number of key priorities on which they will focus.
Any leader who professes that everything is very, very important, clearly does not have a plan for how the country should move forward. They need to work on the 'vision thing'.
They need to stand up individually and tell Jamaicans clearly what he or she believes, where he or she stands; and where he or she wants to take us.
Some people will not like it, some will be afraid of it, but, he or she will not be a successful leader until he or she does.
Peter, Portia and Omar need to be able to paint a clear picture of how to get from here to there, with policies that Jamaicans can accept as practical and viable. And until one of our political leaders (including Mr. Golding) can step forward with a clear vision of the future, a focus on key policy initiatives that will take us there, and the common touch required to enlist the hearts, as well as the minds of the electorate, we are likely to be facing more of the fractious fragmentation we have been living with for the past 16 years of much ado about nothing.