We like to blame many of our ills on a lack of Leadership.

And we are right.  But do we really understand what it is that we lack?  It has already been established that neither our elected nor appointed leaders know how to lead but what of the rest of us who so badly want leaders but choose politicians instead?

So, one Saturday afternoon in 1976, during a lull in the domino game, I asked Dr S. Blank what he thought Leadership was. “Look ‘ere” he replied, “Me is a Senior Lecturer at de University.  Me read a German bwoy name Max Weber.  Him ‘ave it sey dere is t’ree type a leader.  But me sey dat a Leader, whichever one, mus’ inspire we to work ‘ard and sacrifice.”

“So, you want Weber’s Charismatic Leader then?”

“Yu know, fe a bright bwoy, you don’t listen too good,” Blank scowled,  “Me neva sey nuttin ‘bout Charism.  A leader mus’ inspire.”

“But” Upsetter piped up, “what if he can inspire but can’t perform?  Who you prefer, Michael or Norman?  Busta or Blinds?”

“Remember” Gene Autry explained “Weber divided leadership into three categories Charismatic, Traditional and Legal-Beaurocratic.  Charisma is one thing.  Look what it did for the Kennedys.  One day in the 23rd Century charisma might even get a black man elected President of the USA (howls of laughter).  But charisma alone can’t eat.”

Suddenly, Dessie, the best of the players, came under pressure.  “What you doing Dessie?” was the frustrated cry from his partner, The Beast, “Is me go two five and you cut off me five?”

“Pardy,” Dessie responded patiently “If you have double 5 and swing two five, you better know ‘ow you it a go go.  So, once Poop here lick one end, me a go lick de odder end.  One t’ing me know, double five can’t win if it dead eenna Little D han’.  All I’m doing is showing you whey it dey and now we can work on killing it together.”

And so it was that Dessie became the leader.  Afterwards, we used his strategy whenever we could. Around the domino table, we learnt the one-word meaning of Leadership – Example.  Citizens “follow” the leader; Subjects “obey” the Monarch.

Many years ago, an urgent document had to be served at a lawyer’s office a half mile from mine.  Days later, it still languished on my Secretary’s desk.  On enquiry, she reported that our Clerk had demanded taxi fare to deliver the document.  I walked to the lawyer’s office, served the document and walked back.  I sent for the Clerk and updated him. “So, you see,” I said “I can do your job.  But, if I must do your job, then I don’t need you.”  He quickly became our best employee.

Years ago, for my sins, I was appointed to Chair the BGLC.  Uninvited, I joined an inspector on his Saturday tour of rural Jamaica inspecting betting shops.  As we walked the hot streets of the hilly interior’s small towns, sharing the inspecting and recording chores, a similar but this time silent message was sent and received.  The staff’s response was immediate and exemplary.

Leaders set the tone.  They do not depend on a commanding tone.

Leadership is example.  George Price, as Prime Minister of Belize, frequently took the bus to work and operated out of a simple office furnished with wooden benches and ceiling fans.

Leadership is example.  The NWC has imposed the most stringent water restrictions in decades.  When I am driving my unwashed 1992 Cressida on the roads and am overtaken by a convoy of siren screaming motorcycles followed by a Limousine transporting some political Bigwig, I expect it to be equally unwashed.  As I enter my humble abode that must do without even a coat of paint, it would certainly inspire me to what Audley Shaw has called “shared sacrifice” to know that $50 million has not been spent refurbishing any Minister’s residence.

Leadership is example.  As a crowded Half Way Tree watches Usain Bolt outclass the world in Berlin, ought it to be seeing BOTH “Babsy” Grange and Ed Bartlett waving redundant Jamaican Flags?  How much did that cost?  How did Jamaica benefit from their sabbatical?  And how many free places in primary school could be provided for the same cost?

But, we must dream on.  Because, in real life, Leaders don’t lead. They command.  And we must do as they say not as they do!

C’est la vie!

Peace and Love


4 Responses to “WHAT IS LEADERSHIP”

  1. Paul Wright Says:

    It is a great distress to me personally to see and hear that your foray into “Columnists Mecca” has been derailed. I look forward to the contents of your “can”. Many years ago I was a prolific letter-writer to the editors of all and any newspaper in Ja. The Gleaner gave me quite a few “LETTER-OF-THE-DAY” prizes, and once I was even invited to an Editors Forum. After being awarded their Silver Pen , I was invited to be a columnist. At the same time Desmond Richards used to come to my office with similar invites. When I reflected on the rejection rate of the Gleaner vs. the Obsrver and Herald, I chose the Herald with 100th. of the readership of the Gleaner. I wanted my views published. I have them published allbeit with little impact on society, but at least I have my say. I thank God for the Internet,and your determination to have-your-say.

  2. Edward A Hanna Says:

    Excellent , please continue to post, sadly not too many will see to have the desired effect, but we can dream.

  3. Celia Says:

    Notwithstanding, the Minister’s restrictions, I felt the slightest touch of shame when someone would frown at my dirt-coloured car which when purchased was red-orange. But, with my new appreciation of the meaning of leadership, I’m seriously contemplating reverting to my practice of frequent car washes until I have witnessed the dirty convoy of a political Bigwig. But alas, it is I who will have to pay my increased water bill, in addition to theirs which is paid from my taxes, so my car will just have to continue to be a testimony to Leadership, without example, but with taxes.

  4. Liz Says:

    Excellent article. Nothing short of the truth. In this country, we truly lack proper leadership. I long for a Government that will really put people first instead of themselves, their families and their inner circle of friends. We can only hope that the youngsters of today will turn a new page and become better leaders of tomorrow.

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