“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14
On November 30, 1966, the Union Jack was lowered and the Barbados flag raised at the Garrison Savannah. I was a student in London at that time and have no vivid memories of what the feeling was in the country, so I had to rely on the reactions of others who were privileged to be present. Traditionally, independence is a moment in time which signals our desire to relinquish the shackles of colonialism and, given that sound foundation, assume responsibility for our future.
Now 50 years later, we reflect where we are on the path to sustainability. There have undoubtedly been many changes, some of them we could have done without and some of them for the better. We have officially been guided by the government of the day and have embarked on a year of celebrations presumably not only to congratulate ourselves on our successes but also to avoid repeating pitfalls.
The achievement of a sustainable future for our country is in the hands of many organizations, e.g. government, the private sector, trade unions, the church, service clubs and other members of civil society; each having a specific role to play but with the added benefits of the many synergistic interactions between combinations of the parties involved.
We must build new foundations and we must strengthen old ones before we move ahead. Each of these organizations, if they are to be successful in playing their specific roles well, must follow the rules. These are generic rules which begin by laying the foundation, just as if we were in the construction business. You start by laying a sound foundation.
In the context of business planning, the foundation is governance and leadership. In the absence of this, in any organization, whether run by paid employees or volunteers, “cracks will appear in the walls” and frustrate the progress to sustainability.
The extent and timeliness of our future progress depend on the success of our governance, leadership and management to mobilize us into a united force to take our country forward on a path to sustainable success. Good Governance is a structure of processes that guide decision-making in a problem solving environment. Good Leadership, as described by the late Peter Drucker, is a propensity for “doing the right things”. This must then be followed by Good Management which he contrasts with leadership as “doing things right”.
The strategy for success is embodied in the collective accomplishment of individual projects. These projects may be associated with the individual, family, community, company, government department, the nation or the region – whatever the project, a generic approach to problem solving will be of great value.
A major challenge is to get the governance right. This hinges on a recognition of the relative roles of the social partners. The diligent pursuit of the social partnership model is an optimal strategy towards the achievement of the objective of sustainable development.
The media has a very important communication role to play in monitoring progress. The role of the government is to provide regulatory and service functions, the role of the private sector is to “do business”, the role of the Trade Unions is to induce harmony between employer and employee to achieve greater productivity for fair compensation, and the role of NGOs is to support the other social partners by mobilizing volunteers and garnering grant support from benevolent sources.
Leaders are visionaries. They must keep on dreaming as the environment changes. They must motivate others by inducing a management focus based on “I am, therefore I can, therefore I will”. The individual must then practise the 10, two-letter word philosophy “If it is to be; It is up to me”.
Leaders need to think “out of the box”, to engage their colleagues in interactive dialogue to garner new ideas and keep abreast with the changing global environment with its challenges and opportunities. Leadership training is best achieved through a mentorship programme where experienced leaders from at home or abroad work alongside public and private sector leaders to inject new thinking into the enterprise. Management must adhere to the five principles of management: planning, organizing, staffing, leading and monitoring and controlling. Management must continually repeat this cycle as the environment changes.
Leaders are “servants” to the organizations that they serve in the sense that they need to keep a smile on the faces of each member of the organization, reflecting excellence in their stewardship. Whenever faces become glum, this is a red light on your dashboard that signals a fault in the system. Keep looking at your dashboard, so that you do not “run out of gas”.
As paraphrased from a Daily Word message: Let us remember that Leaders come from all walks of life. You, too, are a leader. You are accountable for how you lead your life, and responsible to those who rely on you. You set an example for others through your choices, words and actions. You honor, bless and appreciate the leaders in your life, and you embrace the leader in you.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)