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Challenging leadership to higher performance

The trinidad Guardian / Careful analysis and keen observation leave little doubt there is a leadership crisis in Trinidad and Tobago. It is evident too that the predicament is much more than an indictment of domestic politics.

It is a systemic problem pervading every aspect of our society: academia; business and professions; religion; community and social affairs; public service; sports; trade unions.

Research indicates that this is a global phenomenon as well. In our situation, the outcome of this dilemma is seen in collapsing institutions, debilitating social decay and continuing political and economic uncertainty. The question becomes what do we do about it?

We expect our leaders to possess the character to hold true to commonly accepted values and principles; and the vision and competence to guide citizens towards achievement of agreed goals. Equally, they must be committed to building deep, caring connections with people, realising the importance of strong relationships for ensuring continued support of followers.

We also buy into leaders who trust their intuition and sense what we feel, and who are interested and willing to utilise our experience. True leadership is about lifting people up to perform beyond their perceived limitations: focusing on their potential not their weakness. Ultimately, successful leaders are followed, not for their power, but their ability to motivate and inspire.

These attributes must all come together in meaningful service to people. For leadership is really never about the leaders themselves, but rather the people they serve. This is true for organisations as well as countries. A leader lacking any of these attributes is a leader-in-training.

Today, citizens openly denounce the sad state of political leadership in the country. And rightly so! But we should note that many aspirants to political office develop and sharpen their leadership and management skills in the innumerable community-based, non-governmental, private sector and special interest organisations across the land. These often serve as stepping stones for the ambitious seeking to mount the national political stage.

There is evidence of significant deficiencies in the leadership of such groups. Citizens should therefore act prudently and exercise vigilance in critically examining how these agencies are led and managed. Limiting our scrutiny to political parties demonstrates understandable but gross neglect of our civic duty.

In the longer term, sustainable resolution of the leadership crisis lies in revamping our education system. The challenge here is to broaden the national education curriculum at all levels, to promote education for citizenship, not merely training for occupations; to nurture citizens who can think critically and challenge leadership to higher standards of accountability and performance.

Winston R Rudder,

Petit Valley

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