“Honour those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other” – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-1
Leadership comes in many varieties and intensities. There are spiritual leaders; country, company, cultural, family, youth and environmental leaders. Our societies can only function in a sustainable manner when this leadership mosaic functions well.
Spiritual leadership gives us inner strength; it helps us to want to help others selflessly. It helps to make us more creative and artistic. It helps us fight materialism and greed. It gently teaches us how to handle our freedom. It puts negative emotions into perspective. It fills our hearts with peace, love, light, life and hope.
The leadership of a country, however small, is complex as it must embrace all aspects of society. As Dr. E. F. Schumacher said in his book “Small is beautiful – Economics as if people really mattered”, there is an optimal population size administrative unit from a management perspective of 250,000 – 300,000 people. Barbados has that size naturally. Larger population countries are best served by an amalgam of several optimal sized administrative units. The implication is that smaller population countries operate sub-optimally; they are over-managed.
In Barbados we have been blessed with a series of leadership teams which, since 1961, have enjoyed terms in office of 15, 10, 8, 14 and 3 (current) years, alternating between the two major political parties. As I intimated in my column last week, my prediction is that as Prime Minister Freundel Stuart seeks a mandate from the people, in his own right, as general elections become constitutionally due (in less than two years), we are going to witness a series of “Freundal” zones in the socio-politico-economic atmosphere in Barbados as the leading edge of the wedge, driven by a calm/cool personality, advances and retreats over the Barbadian landscape; in much the same way as a climatic “frontal” zone gives rise to cold and warm fronts.
Barbados has made strides forward but we have not seen the metamorphosis in terms of exponential growth that has been evident in Singapore even though, by any mix of macro-economic indicators, Barbados was ahead of Singapore in 1970. All is not lost.
It has been announced that The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation’s (BEF) vision of “Barbados – the #1 Global Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020” has been unequivocally adopted in the Sixth Protocol of the Barbados Social Compact (2011) between labour, management and government. The volunteer led BEF also embraces the social partnership concept. A positive tsunami is about to arrive – join hands and embrace it and prepare for the journey to greater prosperity.
One of the first manifestations of the vision is that Barbados has made good progress towards being the first free Wi-Fi country in the world by November 11 2011. The Brand is “11-11-11 ON”. Last Thursday night at the Monthly BEF Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Melanie Jones, Champion of the BEF Business Facilitation Pillar, led a panel of eight speakers giving an update on the Wi-Fi project, from every perspective, to an audience of over 70 very attentive individuals. Some members of the audience were very complimentary and encouraging on the achievements of the BEF pillar, others were critical and pessimistic; but the panellists were patient and appreciative. Different approaches were presented which included a partnership between the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry and LIME to provide Wi-Fi access to the whole of Bridgetown. The overall benefits were clear and included the opportunity to Brand Barbados as the “connectivity island” way beyond the traditional tourism and hospitality mix for which this tropical region has become renowned.
I believe that if we adopt a systematic (step-by-step) and evolutionary (the magnitude and direction of the “next” step is informed by the information garnered in the “current” step) approach, we shall be on target for “11-11-11 ON”.
The week before last there was a most gratifying experience, this time witnessed by Derek Browne, the joint Champion of the BEF Training Pillar. The occasion – the Business Challenge “Classroom to Boardroom” programme sponsored by the Rotary Club of Barbados South and First Citizens Bank and facilitated by Derek, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurs in Action Ltd., UK. The organisers were interviewed about the 19 students involved in the programme and their responses reflected pride in the accomplishments achieved by the students. There were some amazing testimonials from the participants on the transformational process.
Congratulations to Alex Pratt, Founder, Serious Brands, Bierton, Buckinghamshire who, last week, was named as a winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, Britain’s highest accolade for business performance. Alex Pratt has joined Derek Browne and Damian McKinney, CEO and founder of McKinney Rogers, both of whom are previous winners of this Award. All three are volunteers on the BEF board.
Last week I attended the annual Queen’s University Canada Conference at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, UK, for a couple of days. It was a very stimulating intellectual experience to mingle with the leading authorities on Risks, Rights and Regulations from North America, the UK, Europe, the Mediterranean and New Zealand. I participated in a Panel Discussion on “Advice to Government and Private Enterprise” and shared some entrepreneurial initiatives in Barbados. The Singapore analogy and the BEF thrust were appealing. It was clear that good leadership is the key to sustainable success.