Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 16: 2017: Addressing Montserrat’s leadership challenge

How can we address our leadership challenge?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 24, 2017 – A good place to begin is with how we understand leadership, especially since the painful history of the Plantation still shapes our culture. It is no accident that our National Day remembers a slave uprising. I think a useful start is:

“leadership is the art of taking initiatives that influence and motivate people through one’s example, thus helping them to accomplish a mission or fulfil a vision.”

Now, while the Situation Leadership Model is getting a bit long in the tooth, it still can help us flesh this out. So, pardon a diagram:

The idea here, is that different circumstances call for different leadership approaches, ranging from R1/S1: giving detailed step- by- step instructions and supervising closely (e.g., in basic training) to R4/S4: simply appointing a trusted delegate and giving freedom to decide and act. In between, are R2/S2: a leader “sells” a decision,  or R3/S3: if there is good enough basic capability, concern and interest to build a “critical mass” to get things moving, a leadership team should facilitate participative decision and action.

However, that is still not the full picture. We need an instructive case study. So, kindly allow me to draw on the most common history book in the Caribbean, the Bible.  Here, let us consider a sixteen year old shepherd boy, three thousand years ago. He has been sent by his father, to bring rations for his big brothers in the Army; which had been called out to face an invasion. Just as he arrives in the camp, Goliath is roaring out a challenge to a battle of champions, as he had done every day for the past six weeks. But, no-one (including the King himself) was confident enough to take up the challenge.

David immediately volunteered. One of his big brothers, likely afraid that David was digging his grave with his mouth, tried to put him in his place. David insisted, and was soon meeting with the King, to whom he had to “sell” his decision to be Israel’s champion.  His resume began with lions and bears off in the bush, demonstrating skill, courage and confidence. Saul and others could also sense David’s intangible but very real aura of a breakthrough anointing.

Reluctantly, Saul agreed, and offered one of the few sets of armour the Israelites had. David tried it but was not comfortable. He would use his accustomed weapons. That’s why, just a few minutes later, he ran out to meet the giant armed with a shepherd’s club and carrying a sling in his hand. He made sure to have five stones – Goliath had four brothers.  A moment’s dead aim, and Goliath fell face down, hit in the forehead.  David then used the giant’s own sword to kill the Philistine champion, delivering a key victory. Of course, years of struggle, handling jealous schemes, setbacks and even exile followed. And, Goliath’s sword would become David’s sword. In the end, David proved to be a great King.

Instantly, we can see that leadership is not equal to official position, formal power, money, family, self-promotion, trash-talking others, or fame, etc. Instead, initiative, vision, confident, anointed influence and example are rooted in character and diligent preparation.  Such character-based leaders will have to handle harsh (and usually quite unfair) critics intent on discrediting them. Capability, experience, self-mastery and good judgement are key; especially when an emerging leader is not following business as usual.  Strategy must be based on sound, well-informed insight and realistic planning. Contingencies – four more stones for Goliath’s brothers – need to be in place. In a polarised situation, “consensus” is usually unrealistic, but a critical mass of support can get things moving: David’s brother opposed him, but someone drew him to the King’s attention. The King took some advice, did an interview, weighed his options and went with the decision.  (And indeed, David shortly entered the Army as a General.)

All of this has much to say to us. For one, we must be open to the unexpected, unorthodox leader who emerges from “nowhere” but sees what the established elites are missing. Likewise, leadership is a team game, and if we spend our time in picking well-connected favourites, undercutting, undermining, discrediting, accusing and locking out, we are setting up a leadership culture of frustration and failure. Third, leadership pivots on character, capability and sound creative insight, which we must target in training and selection. Fourth, sound leadership is about service by example, not dirty power and influence-buying games that so enmesh us in wrong-doing that by the time we reach top decision-maker positions, we have become cynical and benumbed in conscience with so many skeletons in our closets that we can only go along with the hidden agendas of backers, dominant factions and agendas; even when they are manifestly unsound. Playing big frog in a dirty small pond might well fatten our bank accounts and our power networks might keep us out of prison, but that is not going to take Montserrat forward to a sound future.

In fact, such a taint of sleaziness would only tell DfID – which is and will remain our chief development partner – that we cannot be trusted with money and responsibility to deliver on key, big ticket projects.  This is precisely why they keep stressing that we have to sort out financial management, procurement, good governance, transparency and capacity. Sure, DfID has its own scandals, but that also means they desperately do not want to see Montserrat headlined yet again as a capital example of waste or worse.

But, it’s not just about “selling” a development plan to DfID. We need to build a whole new generation of wholesome, high character, high capability, soundly confident leadership able to work with teams but knowing where to draw the line.

We need such leaders right across civil society. That points to the home, the school, the churches. We must rebuild a network of clubs, hobby groups, extracurricular activities, sports leadership programmes, business mentoring and incubation, a broad-based participative community forum and more. We need to train people in how to organise and run a club, how to run a meeting in accord with proper procedure, how to use SWOT analysis to envision a strategy, then create a proposal or plan, and how to carry out a resulting project or other initiative. Likewise, in how to spot a business opportunity, build up skills and resources, write and present a business plan, and carry it out. And more. END

Leave a Reply

Newsletter

The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

https://indd.adobe.com/view/fefbe432-457e-4ac8-8976-c4a380014263

Archives

How can we address our leadership challenge?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 24, 2017 – A good place to begin is with how we understand leadership, especially since the painful history of the Plantation still shapes our culture. It is no accident that our National Day remembers a slave uprising. I think a useful start is:

“leadership is the art of taking initiatives that influence and motivate people through one’s example, thus helping them to accomplish a mission or fulfil a vision.”

Insert Ads Here

Now, while the Situation Leadership Model is getting a bit long in the tooth, it still can help us flesh this out. So, pardon a diagram:

The idea here, is that different circumstances call for different leadership approaches, ranging from R1/S1: giving detailed step- by- step instructions and supervising closely (e.g., in basic training) to R4/S4: simply appointing a trusted delegate and giving freedom to decide and act. In between, are R2/S2: a leader “sells” a decision,  or R3/S3: if there is good enough basic capability, concern and interest to build a “critical mass” to get things moving, a leadership team should facilitate participative decision and action.

However, that is still not the full picture. We need an instructive case study. So, kindly allow me to draw on the most common history book in the Caribbean, the Bible.  Here, let us consider a sixteen year old shepherd boy, three thousand years ago. He has been sent by his father, to bring rations for his big brothers in the Army; which had been called out to face an invasion. Just as he arrives in the camp, Goliath is roaring out a challenge to a battle of champions, as he had done every day for the past six weeks. But, no-one (including the King himself) was confident enough to take up the challenge.

David immediately volunteered. One of his big brothers, likely afraid that David was digging his grave with his mouth, tried to put him in his place. David insisted, and was soon meeting with the King, to whom he had to “sell” his decision to be Israel’s champion.  His resume began with lions and bears off in the bush, demonstrating skill, courage and confidence. Saul and others could also sense David’s intangible but very real aura of a breakthrough anointing.

Reluctantly, Saul agreed, and offered one of the few sets of armour the Israelites had. David tried it but was not comfortable. He would use his accustomed weapons. That’s why, just a few minutes later, he ran out to meet the giant armed with a shepherd’s club and carrying a sling in his hand. He made sure to have five stones – Goliath had four brothers.  A moment’s dead aim, and Goliath fell face down, hit in the forehead.  David then used the giant’s own sword to kill the Philistine champion, delivering a key victory. Of course, years of struggle, handling jealous schemes, setbacks and even exile followed. And, Goliath’s sword would become David’s sword. In the end, David proved to be a great King.

Instantly, we can see that leadership is not equal to official position, formal power, money, family, self-promotion, trash-talking others, or fame, etc. Instead, initiative, vision, confident, anointed influence and example are rooted in character and diligent preparation.  Such character-based leaders will have to handle harsh (and usually quite unfair) critics intent on discrediting them. Capability, experience, self-mastery and good judgement are key; especially when an emerging leader is not following business as usual.  Strategy must be based on sound, well-informed insight and realistic planning. Contingencies – four more stones for Goliath’s brothers – need to be in place. In a polarised situation, “consensus” is usually unrealistic, but a critical mass of support can get things moving: David’s brother opposed him, but someone drew him to the King’s attention. The King took some advice, did an interview, weighed his options and went with the decision.  (And indeed, David shortly entered the Army as a General.)

All of this has much to say to us. For one, we must be open to the unexpected, unorthodox leader who emerges from “nowhere” but sees what the established elites are missing. Likewise, leadership is a team game, and if we spend our time in picking well-connected favourites, undercutting, undermining, discrediting, accusing and locking out, we are setting up a leadership culture of frustration and failure. Third, leadership pivots on character, capability and sound creative insight, which we must target in training and selection. Fourth, sound leadership is about service by example, not dirty power and influence-buying games that so enmesh us in wrong-doing that by the time we reach top decision-maker positions, we have become cynical and benumbed in conscience with so many skeletons in our closets that we can only go along with the hidden agendas of backers, dominant factions and agendas; even when they are manifestly unsound. Playing big frog in a dirty small pond might well fatten our bank accounts and our power networks might keep us out of prison, but that is not going to take Montserrat forward to a sound future.

In fact, such a taint of sleaziness would only tell DfID – which is and will remain our chief development partner – that we cannot be trusted with money and responsibility to deliver on key, big ticket projects.  This is precisely why they keep stressing that we have to sort out financial management, procurement, good governance, transparency and capacity. Sure, DfID has its own scandals, but that also means they desperately do not want to see Montserrat headlined yet again as a capital example of waste or worse.

But, it’s not just about “selling” a development plan to DfID. We need to build a whole new generation of wholesome, high character, high capability, soundly confident leadership able to work with teams but knowing where to draw the line.

We need such leaders right across civil society. That points to the home, the school, the churches. We must rebuild a network of clubs, hobby groups, extracurricular activities, sports leadership programmes, business mentoring and incubation, a broad-based participative community forum and more. We need to train people in how to organise and run a club, how to run a meeting in accord with proper procedure, how to use SWOT analysis to envision a strategy, then create a proposal or plan, and how to carry out a resulting project or other initiative. Likewise, in how to spot a business opportunity, build up skills and resources, write and present a business plan, and carry it out. And more. END