One of the inescapable facts of life is that the person exercising leadership in any organization remains in that position by virtue of a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, the leader must be successful in expressing or exemplifying the character of the organization itself. No one can effectively represent a group by evoking attitudes that are foreign to the mores and values of the membership. Such a stance can only lead to disruptions and dislocations within the group, and must lead to either the weakening, if not the outright destruction, of the organization.
Leaders must have certain characteristics that enable them to perform their role successfully. One of them is the vision to sense what the group needs at any point in time. Another is the ability to articulate that vision to the membership; and a third is the will and confidence to drive the organization in a direction that a large segment of the membership may not perceive at a given point in time.
Soft, malleable, insecure and tentative individuals do not make good leaders. There are times in the history of a movement or organization when leaders must make swift decisions and act on them, even when the main body of followers is not in possession of all the facts. This sort of leadership stresses the organization, since many members do not understand where the group is going. This can lead to precisely the kind of dislocation and disruption leaders should strive to avoid.
Under conditions of uncertainty, individuals who fail to perceive a visionary leader’s new direction may seek to break away, taking some of the members with them. They may even attempt unseat that visionary leader To some extent, their success in such an effort depends on their own leadership ability. Their success will also depend on the level of instability that the visionary leader’s actions create within the group. If the instability reaches unsustainable levels, they may succeed.
The recent history of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis demonstrates that Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas is anything but soft, malleable, insecure or tentative. Dr Douglas has shown that he has the vision to perceive the direction in which his government must move, to devise a strategy for reaching a set objective, and to implement the tough decisions that will ensure success. His bold actions have indeed stressed the organization, but events have shown that Dr Douglas leads a unified movement that supports his successful economic strategy to the hilt.
Now, as the wisdom of what some pedestrian minds perceived as a negative step begins to bear fruit, the naysayers have lost their momentum. The faith that rank-and-file members of the organization have maintained in Prime Minister Douglas is justified, and the group can now move forward unified – healthier for the departure of less visionary individuals who sought to deter the leader from making the decisions that needed to be made, and which time is already proving to have been wise.