It is always a challenge to speak on any topic to which even a hint of religion or politics is attached. Is it at all possible to offer an opinion on a topical issue without being accused of being partisan or a religious fanatic? For the most part, in all of my articles, I have charted a wide berth, clear of anything remotely political as it is inherent in my nature to avoid controversy. However, as a citizen of this nation, I reserve the right to express my opinion (within reason) whether or not others share the same view.
Since I began my working life, I have, for the most part, held down what we in Bim refer to as ‘a steady job’. I have not had much opportunity to compare the effectiveness of different types of organisational or human resource management structures. I have, however, worked under different types of leadership and the methodologies exhibited by those in charge were wide and varied.
Leadership is one of those terms which cannot be fairly discussed in a few words. As a matter of fact, several volumes have been published on the subject and throughout the world there are many self-proclaimed gurus. As with everything in recent times, many companies and businesses have evolved out of leadership and what it could potentially do for an individual.
In my recent readings, I came across a profound statement made by the late Dr Myles Munroe. He said, ‘Leadership is the ability to influence others’. As simple as those words are, the effect on my psyche was so profound that it knocked the wind out of my proverbial sails. For many days thereafter, my mind continued to turn that concept over and over, and I tried to determine whether or not it was true. After that period of academic torment, I came to the conclusion that I completely agreed with him. I believe that the reason I wrestled with complete acquiescence was that it forced me to take an inward look.
Was I positively influencing my children, my friends and quite importantly, was I influencing my patients? I felt secure in the knowledge that I was making an impact on my family and friends, and to some extent on my patients. But I had this deep feeling that I could do more for all of them.
The social professions such as medicine, social work and teaching really do take a sizeable chunk out of the emotional cake of those therein involved. Almost of necessity, these and other professionals take on a degree of responsibility for the lives entrusted to their care without taking care of their own concerns. I have not done any research to acquire actual prevalence data to determine how many social professionals disregard their health. However, I can testify to several urinary tract infections in nurses who did not go to the bathroom on time, trying to get patients seen; several doctors who were guilty of missing lunch or rescheduling their physicals to reduce the load in the clinics.
In that regard, some of us have failed as leaders as we have not set a good example of self-care for our patients and other charges to follow. Many studies have documented a relationship between ill physical health and poor emotional health. Earlier today, I remarked to a family member that some of the elderly who have dementia survive their care-givers who ignore many of the signs and symptoms of care-giver stress.
By now you must be wondering about my pointed references to the avoidance of political issues and in which direction my train of thought was heading. It is my opinion and that of my close friends that as a nation we were privileged to experience good leadership over the past few days. Allow me to issue my disclaimer and state that I speak with reference to a particular period in time and am, by no means, seeking to compare the different styles of leadership to which we have been previously exposed as a country. Again, I do not have any statistics to ‘back-up’ what I am saying but I live here and as any Bajan would, I have a sense of the climate of our country.
I firmly believe that for the first time in many years, Bajans were thrown out of their stupor and forced to set aside their elitist misconceptions about ‘God’s nationality’, after hearing the address made by our leader. Yes, it is a fact that whenever inclement weather is announced there is the usual last-minute rush. However, there were many more last-minute persons getting themselves prepared this time around. I found it very amusing hearing the confession of one last-minute shopper proclaiming that she never got prepared for storms. However, she was getting prepared this time because the Prime Minister said that the people should get prepared.
The last few days appeared to me to be a precise orchestration and deployment of all of our resources in a timely fashion. Before and after the storm, the many divisions of the essential and non-essential services functioned like a well-oiled machine. I am not privy to all the goings-on and many things might have gone wrong, but I felt a sense of empowerment for us as a people regarding our ability to weather the impending storm. Thankfully, we were spared, but of course, the Sanballats and Tobiahs must complain that things should have been done differently, and a national shutdown was unnecessary. My response to those individuals would be that it is better to be prepared for a storm which passes us, than to be unprepared for one that hits us.
It is not easy being a leader especially when unpopular or difficult decisions need to be made but we are all leaders in our own right. My advice? In whatever field of endeavour you find yourself, seek to be an exceptional leader and influence those around you for the good of our nation.
(Rénee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)