The building of a nation may not always be a purely objective or even popular subjective voting process (like a referendum), but it does require planning, implementation, and most of all, a leadership that motivates and mobilizes concerted and consistent effort.
Leadership requires a special component that enables others to work in teams that produce consistently better results than the team members could produce individually.
The historical recounts of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, Genghis Khan, and even Adolf Hitler, are frequently studied in every class that teaches leadership as a focal point. This includes business and governance. The individual is not the issue but rather their impact on others is the main motive for studying them and identifying their personality types. By comparison they exhibit a wide spectrum of motivation, skillsets, and communication as they went about accomplishing goals that were larger than themselves.
Jamaica is no exception as we have a reasonably established intellectual capacity, technological capacity, some investment capacity, and have no shortage of would-be leaders to direct our own national development. But these attributes are constrained by a selfish attitude towards sharing information; an inability to work cooperatively; a stupid interpretation of tribal political loyalty; a convenient misinterpretation of integrity; and an overblown concept of self and selfishness.
These factors combine to deprive the spread of essential knowledge and serve to provide a real fear factor that restrains leadership and leaders. The individuality of the exceptional leader is negatively impacted by the educational system that provides repetition as opposed to invention; the workplace that provides no room for the employee whose intellect challenges the boss; the political party that encourages conformity to mediocrity as the membership criteria.
These traits are great when considering the “lumpen proletariat”, but leave little room for their transformation into more productive and innovative people. In Jamaica sadly, the lumpen are becoming more lumpen even in the face of global opportunities that have been consistently hampered by myopic local focus. Simply put, the world is passing us by and we hardly notice it.
Personalities, politics, work opportunities, music, mindless intolerance, deteriorating education processes, deleterious and pervasive drug usage, serve to divide us and deprive us of the possibility of progress. Leadership in all areas has been disempowered and logical decision making has been rendered redundant.
We sign progressive international agreements with a flourish on the world stage, but fail to implement these at home. “See mi and come live with mi a two different things” — a Jamaican wisdom that could not be any more truthful.
The International Monetary Fund has been more outspoken in recent statements about our failure to transform Government operations to a more efficient process and one that could reduce waste. This includes some implied rationalization of the civil service, and perhaps new processes that would render greater customer satisfaction. It could serve us well to look at the root causes of their statement.
Firstly there are wages. Our Government does not have the capacity to pay enough so as to meet the expectations of their employees. So inherently we have had to embrace demotivated mediocrity. This cannot be a satisfactory workplace environment internally, or with the customer interface. This is a non-starter.
Secondly, in an individualistic society, the more productive worker cannot differentiate him or herself from the identically paid underperformers. This then opens the window of opportunity for either lethargy or corruption.
Thirdly, many Government services that were established under the period of colonialism were for the benefit of Britain and not the then colony, Jamaica. They are mainly obsolete and redundant. For example, the Registered Mail, Gazette, and the newspaper published notices, come to mind when most Jamaicans do not have an address, purchase daily newspapers, and get most of their information on social media.
Similarly, why do certain receipts need to have a stamp attached? How many Jamaican citizens actually receive mail that is delivered to their homes? Job applications are “apply on line” and the offers are by similar medium, however the actual contract requires a home address (sometimes in a location to which the mail cannot be delivered because it is a “garrison”).
Fourthly, there are many jobs that can be measured accurately and form a basis for incentive remuneration that rewards individuals and teams for productivity in a way that creates greater job satisfaction. It seems to work in sales, production, BPOs, and many other fields.
Fifthly, divested Government operations may significantly reduce the wage bill, at the same time the new service providers can be held to performance standards that increase citizen satisfaction, and allow greater access and revenue opportunities to the new owners.
Sixthly, many persons now seemingly tied to government jobs may make decisions where they may have been timid and indecisive, and take the leap to greater earnings and self-actualization through their own innovation. These will add further to the society’s welfare and growth. Then they will have the options to provide independent pensions, realistic family health insurance and afford a better education.
These steps require decisive leadership and the avoidance of “groupthink” in charting a sustainable way forward. The “mission is not impossible”, but at the slow rate of decision-making, the tape is self-destructing as we read.