Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Choosing the right leaders

Observer column for MON 14 October 2013
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

How can one explain this US shutdown?  Is it the constant repetition of the word ‘Obamacare’ that got to the House Republicans – like a child who gets angry when his parents insist on something that he finds unacceptable?  Is the word ‘Obamacare’ a trigger for defiance, just as “eat your vegetables” could be to a resisting youngster?

It could very well be, and perhaps the first step towards reopening America, would be for the White House and press friends to call the Act by its correct name: The Affordable Healthcare Act. You see, for members of the ‘Tea Party’, the name Obama is angering – whether it is a matter of racism or just political maneuvering, we cannot tell.
Friday’s poll results may very well encourage conciliatory moves by the Republicans as well.  The New York Times reported, “With Washington inching toward a resolution to the budget standoff, Republicans grappled with new polls showing that the public overwhelmingly blames them for the fiscal dispute. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released Thursday evening, 53 percent of the public blamed Republicans, while 31 percent blamed Mr. Obama. Just 24 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of Republicans.”
It goes to show the delicate balance in today’s world, and the importance of choosing the right leaders.  Thank goodness for these scientific surveys which have a wonderfully deflating effect on politicians’ egos.

Chris Zacca - Gleaner photo
Chris Zacca on Leadership
We recommend the address on leadership made by PSOJ president Chris Zacca at the opening of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica.  This is a field that is a life saver for companies big and small, and Jamaica has some of the finest.  I will never forget the late Herb Lewis who was industrial relations manager at Wray & Nephew, a man who took his values of Christianity into his dealings with all levels of workers.  One night his car broke down in a certain community and he was held up by gunmen; when he spoke one of them realised that it was he who had helped several members in the community to get training and move up in their jobs.  Their threats quickly turned into apologies.
Chris shared with us five of ten key areas for developing ethical leadership, recommended by The Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics, an independent US entity that works with CEOs of leading corporations:
-       Articulate and embody the purpose and value of the organization
-       Focus on organizational success rather than personal ego
-       Find the best people and develop them
-       Create a living conversation about ethics, values and the creation of value for stakeholders
-       Create mechanisms of dissent
The fourth is of particular significance because as Chris says, “Too often business executives think that having a laminated “values card” in their wallet or having a purely compliance approach to ethics has solved the “ethics problem.” I’m sure Bernie Madoff, maybe even Cash Plus and other troubled companies had these systems in place.”
“What they didn’t have,” he continued, “was a conversation across all levels of the business where the basics of value creation, stakeholder principles and societal expectations were routinely discussed and debated.”
In these tough economic times, folks may allow panic to take hold, and not focus on the importance of these five key elements for leadership.  They should understand that it is now even more important to pause, plan and ensure that they are fit, proper and ready for the tsunami of challenges that is already building in this country.
Hon Dorothy Pine-McLarty
New ECJ Chairman Dorothy Pine-McLarty
As she delivered the Rose Leon Memorial Lecture in March of this year, Beverly Anderson Duncan singled out Dorothy Pine-McLarty in the audience and reflected that she would make a fine Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).  Her wish materialized earlier this month when the selected members of the ECJ voted for their new chairman, following the resignation of Dr Herbert Thompson. 
A distinguished attorney-at-law, Mrs Pine-McLarty has served on the ECJ as an Independent Commissioner, since its inception in 2006. She has also given exceptional service in other areas of public life, as well as in community and private sector development. She was appointed a member of the Order of Jamaica in October 2007 for outstanding public service.

The Jamaican people should know that the lady at the helm of the ECJ, the governing body for the conduct of Jamaica’s elections, is Chairperson of the Access to Information Appeals Tribunal and serves in various voluntary positions. She was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 1995 and while there she served on the Boards of several organisations including Charities Evaluation Services Board of England and Wales, and The Jamaica Basic Schools' Foundation (United Kingdom) Limited.
Ambassador Celsa Nuño and husband Alex Crowther
 Strong bonds with Spain
Ambassador Celsa Nuño and her husband Alex Crowther hosted a splendid Spain
National Day event at the Mona Lodge, UWI, last Wednesday.  Ambassador Nuño reminded us that Spanish entrepreneurs “had invested heavily in Jamaica and had a solid commitment to corporate social responsibility.” The Spanish Jamaican Foundation chaired by Ambassador Nuño partnered with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust in the restoration of the Seville Great House in St. Ann.  She continues the initiative of her predecessor Ambassador Jesús Silva, providing significant assistance for the restoration of the historical Holy Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Kingston. 

Her government engaged Spanish expert Professor Antonio Sanchez-Barriga, who trained 32 young men in the surrounding communities in art restoration.  Professor Sanchez-Barriga will receive the Jamaican Honour of the Jamaica Order of Distinction – Commander Class on National Heroes’ Day for his contribution.  Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson delivered an excellent toast, remarking on the generosity of the Government of Spain and the strong bond between our people. We were also delighted to hear of the Foundation’s Spanish Teachers Competition and heartily applauded the winner Mr Errol Hutton of Meadowbrook High School. 

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