The Bahamas today, like most nations of the world, is facing a leadership challenge. Some would call it a leadership crisis, but I prefer the term challenge. There are national leadership challenges on a political level, leadership challenges in unions, churches, businesses, civic organizations and even in homes. Leadership challenges will never go away and there will never be perfection in leadership. This does not mean we should not hold our leaders accountable and expect the best from them, it’s simply an admission of an historical fact that has been with us since the beginning of time.
Sometimes we act as if leadership challenges are new. I recall as a young man growing up, the public agitation about the leadership of Sir Lynden Pindling, even though there was euphoria associated with independence and the emergence of black leadership. When Hubert Ingraham ascended to leadership there was initial euphoria that was followed by the same public agitation and discontent. Let’s face it, we will never be satisfied with our leaders. We may be more satisfied at times but there will always be discontent, questioning and search for better leadership.
Should we be satisfied if we feel leadership is not up to standard? Absolutely not. But we should realize that the leadership we seek may never fully materialize so we must push for the best leadership from our leaders that they are capable of, and continue to find the leader or leaders who give us the best chance at success. This is the way of the world and it has not and will not change. I have yet to recall a time when any country was totally satisfied with its leadership. In most democracies, elections are decided by between two and five percent of the voters, and in some cases even less. So, even when you win an election almost half of the population may be against you.
What do we do about our leadership challenges? I believe there are some leadership principles that we must examine to help us cope with and seek to influence our leaders to ensure they do not stray far from what has the possibility of ensuring their success. What are these principles?
• We need to be led by vision and not history. Sometimes people lead by history. Continually bringing up the past and arguing about the failures of their predecessors. This is a recipe for rear view mirror driving which we know can cause accidents and mishaps. Leaders should constantly talk about their vision and show the country or their organization where we are headed and how we will get there. Let’s argue about the future and not the past because even if we are successful in our arguments about the past it still does not answer the question about our future. I have no issue with the mention of history for perspective, but we cannot be led by history, we need every leader to show us their vision.
• Leadership is about choices. Every leader should be able to explain what the current choices before us are and which one they want us to choose and why. As a church leader I have had to look at the changing landscape of what we call church and make some decisions. For example, the way people do church has changed, demographics have changed, technology has changed, so we must make choices based upon today’s realities. People used to go to church every week but now they have several options – go to church, watch online, watch a foreign preacher on television, go to the beach, take the children to a Sunday sporting event or watch the service tomorrow on YouTube or Facebook. I can choose to follow what used to be, or make a choice to factor in the current environment and change the way we do business. Your choices determine your destiny so your choices will govern where you end up. Mr. Leader (not any one specific leader) what are our choices?
• Explain the preferred future. Leaders should always explain the preferred future. The credibility of the mission is not measured by the opinions or decisions of the people. Show us the preferred future and explain why it is the preferred future. If you are unable to explain why then the people have a right to question your leadership. Every leader will face doubt and negativity (negativity cannot stop the mission). If you fail to meet a goal tell us why and what you’re going to do to correct it. People want transparency, which includes being honest about mistakes and failures. It may seem scary to admit a mistake but when the mistake is obvious, admitting it helps you recover as opposed to hiding it. Tell us you made a mistake but here is where we are going still, here is the preferred future.
If we look at the life of Jesus, he constantly prepared his disciples for his departure because although it was painful it was the preferred future that would put them in the best position to succeed. He makes statements like “It is better for you that I leave”, and “For this purpose was the son of God made manifest”. Let’s take a lesson from his book and establish what the preferred future is and lead by vision rather than history or opinion.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.