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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
The Caribbean Leadership Project (CLP) is dedicated to supporting public sector leaders and future leaders who face the numerous paradigm shifts stemming from globalization, new technologies, economic instability, and international political unrest. These are just a few of the challenges of serving in the 21st century. To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith: what got practitioners to where they are won’t necessarily get them to where they need to be. The path well-travelled of public administration inherited from the 20th century provided a solid foundation, which includes the primacy of the rule of law, a commitment to due process in serving the public good, a concern for efficiency in service delivery and for probity in the use of public funds. It laid the basis for a strong system of accountability that runs through every level of public administration. However, today, this classic model of public administration is insufficient for guiding practitioners in the new millennium, and reforms to date are only part of a long and complex journey.
This is why the CLP will aim to provide current leaders and future leaders with a framework that integrates past practices, lessons learned from recent public sector reforms, and the skills, research and networks associated with modern-era leadership.
Caribbean heads of organisations have always had formidable challenges with which to cope, but it is not realistic, nor efficient, to continue to expect these leaders to be able to do everything. While all the capacities cannot reside in a single person, they should be expected in the whole organisation. To become the kind of public service organisation that society needs, it is not just a question of developing leaders, but of connecting the right leaders to the right tasks, and from there to empower the entire workforce to focus on serving citizens, communities, and society as a whole.
This may amount to a paradigm shift that will require determined actions from all stakeholders if it is to come about smoothly and offer positive synergies for leadership development in the Caribbean Region. While governments start by setting out their development vision and explaining the constraints under which they are operating, it will be crucial for leaders and future leaders to follow a process during which a genuine exchange with stakeholders is possible, resulting in broad adherence and realistic mutual commitments. In this context, the CLP intends to play a catalytic role and cooperate simultaneously with several partners from Caribbean and Canadian institutions. The involvement of a variety of stakeholders in a process of information, education, mentorship, and implementation will help to find effective ways to define and meet the needs of today’s society.
Leadership development is a demanding concept and its protagonists should be prepared to face obstacles. It will be particularly demanding for those who will have to change their earlier patterns of dominating or submissive behaviour. Leadership development has the advantage of enhancing social cohesion while increasing effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of development policies.
Despite decades of studies supporting empowerment, participation, and involvement in the workplace, the work of fostering adaptable and resilient public service organisations continues to be blocked by hierarchical roles and old paradigms of leadership that support centralized decision-making and individual ownership, power and control. It is imperative to address this fundamental paradigm of leadership in order to allow the emergence of governments which are adaptable, proactive and resilient.
To paraphrase Charles Darwin in closing, it is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.
May your journey be inspiring!
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