Colombo Telegraph

A Wish For Leadership And Governance Post Presidential Elections 2015

By Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

“Governance and leadership are the yin and the yang of successful organisations (and more so for Nations). If you have leadership without governance you risk tyranny, fraud and personal fiefdoms. If you have governance without leadership you risk atrophy, bureaucracy and indifference.” – Mark Goyder (Director of Tomorrow’s Company)

A fervent wish of all citizens comprising the civil society is for a new beginning in Leadership and Governance in the period post 9th January 2015, and the consequential realization of the dream of Sri Lanka gaining universal recognition as the “NEW Miracle of Asia” – A wish that in this new era, through Leadership and Governance, Sri Lanka will become a strong, sustainable and prosperous house built on the foundation of;

  • Peace and Harmony, Safety and Security, 

With strong pillars of

  • Justice and Equality, Rule of Law, Transparency and Corruption Free,
  • Democracy, Rights and Freedoms,
  • Human and Infrastructure Development,
  • Sustainable and Equitable Economic Opportunity
  • Growth Supportive Friendly International Relations embracing all nations
  • Acceptable Societal Values collectively committed to by all in society

covered by the Roof of

  • Exemplary Leadership and Good Governance 

Towards the above dream come true, civil society has Ten specific wishes to be realized through Leadership and Governance in the period post 9th January 2015:

Wish – 1 – Visionary Transformational Leadership

May the leadership style be visionary and forward looking and seek new niche opportunities for transformation of society as a whole (wishing for a sea change in transformational leadership abandoning transactional leadership styles). Leadership and Governance must be objective and realistic, transparent, just and equitable. In addition it must be strategic and focussed in the implementation of action plans. The path chosen must strive to motivate collective civil society support and team work, integrating and aligning all citizens as equal partners supporting the realization of the vision.

“We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.” – Charles F Kettering and “The problems we have today cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Wish – 2 – Governance Structure built on Equitable, Sustainable and Transparent Policies and Practices

All implementation strategies and action plans and the allocation of national resources must lead to long term value addition to all stakeholders of society and must be accepted by civil society as equitable, sustainable and based on transparent policies and practices which are applied by the Executive with consistency, free of bias, in a non partisan, independent and honest way . The leadership must establish facilitative channels by which the “Voice of the Community” and the “Voice of the Civil Society Partners” (ie. Religious and societal leaders, academics, professionals, business and Civil Society Organizations) on governance, policies and strategies can be received, assessed, prioritized and implemented, if adding value and is appropriate in realizing the desired vision.

“Affirmative action must be rooted in the principles of justice and equality.” – Nelson Mandela (October 1991)(Ex President: South Africa)

Wish – 3 – Efficiency, Effectiveness, Economy and Risk Management in Governance

May the leadership be committed to Efficiency, Effectiveness, Economy and Risk Management in Governance and towards assuring same mobilize, motivate and engage capable (knowledge/skills/attitudes and Values) and honest human resources (being men and women of honesty and integrity), and deploy appropriate technology and best practices in governance, in managing the national resources and delivering public services. Effective methodologies for assessment, grading and management of risks on a basis prioritized for probability and severity must be in place. The Leadership must engage and encourage the clear expression of the “Voice of the Community” and the “Voice of Civil Society Partners” in a critique and dialogue on the process of Governance and its impact on the stakeholders.

“I always remember the axiom; a leader . . . is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they are being directed from behind.” – Nelson Mandela (Ex President: South Africa)

Wish – 4 – Focus on Outcomes and Not Inputs and Outputs

The Leadership must in all facets of governance and administration ensure a definite shift of gears and a new commitment focusing on the delivery of pre set and agreed outcomes. This shift from a mere accountability for spends and outputs will make a big difference to all stakeholders and pave the way towards achieving the set vision. Here again the Leadership must engage and encourage the clear expression of the “Voice of the Community” and the “Voice of Civil Society Partners” in a critique and dialogue on the process.

Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way & expecting a different outcome”-An Old Chinese proverb

Wish – 5 – Demand Accountability and Effective Enforcement of Laws and Regulations

The Leadership in Governance must demand accountability top down from all engaged in the Executive. Management by objectives and results, ending with balance score card linked techniques of open and transparent performance management must be in place with incentives and penalties. The leadership must also ensure effective enforcement of laws and regulations by all law enforcement agencies and regulators. It must also pave the way with a conducive environment where the Executive is empowered to take independent, fair, just and unbiased decisions. Civil society must be empowered and encouraged to demand accountability and to have in place an effective system of complaints. Towards this an effective “Right to Information” regime of laws and institutional support must be put in place.

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Thomas Jefferson

Wish – 6 – Promote Intellectual Honesty and Open Debate in Decision Making and in Communications

Intellectual honesty must be demanded from all in the Executive and positive critique and open intellectual debate on all critical issues of Leadership and Governance must be encouraged. An era where media freedom and promotion of independent media houses (even those critical of the Leadership and the governance model) must be encouraged and excellence in all facets of journalism including media exposes must be promoted. Through this freedom and the encouragement for the “Voice of the Community” and the “Voice of the Civil Society Partners” to emerge in society in open dissent, critique and dialogue will lead to a new chapter in Leadership and Governance. The practice of publishing white papers and green papers on critical national issues, policies and legislation and placing it for public critique must be a key feature of the new style of Leadership and Governance.

“To set aside one’s prejudices, one’s present needs, and one’s own self interest in making a decision as a director for a company is an intellectual exercise that takes constant practice. In short, intellectual honesty is a journey and not a destination.” – Mervyn King (Chairman: King Report)

Wish – 7 – Quality and Sustainable Management of National Budgets/Resources and Debt

Leadership must institute systems, processes, and controls that institute international best practices of budgeting, budgetary control, project management, information flows and transparency. Professional and critical assessments and reviews including post audits of all significant allocations of national resources and government spends ( both of a capital and revenue nature.) must be promoted. Effective parliamentary control over public finances by designated committees, (where necessary assisted by the inclusion of professionals) and effective audit systems must be introduced. All state operated commercial ventures must be justified and made accountable for delivering agreed outcomes and the realization of expected returns.

Milton Friedman, cautioned against governments being given full and control of major national resources and the exclusive right to manage the economy and said that if the federal government were “in charge of the Sahara Desert” for instance, “in 5 years there (would) be a shortage on sand.”

Wish – 8 – Build High Quality Institutions

The Leadership must commit to build high quality institutions to support the process of governance, with the focus and dependence shifting to an institutional framework rather than individuals and small coterie of advisors. The Central Bank, the Public Services Commission, the Police Commission, the Elections Commission, the Bribery and Corruption Commission, the Judicial Services Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Audit Services, the Securities Exchange Commission, the several Public Utilities Commissions and similar institutions must be built as independent institutions and be staffed and directed by honest and competent men and women and adequately resourced and supported.

It is time for the world, the hemisphere and the region to make sure that relevant institutions of civil society and relevant laws are embedded in the mechanisms of governance”. Baldwin Spencer

Wish – 9 – Build Networks of Value

The Leadership must encourage and the executive must promote effective and mutually value adding long lasting positive relationships with the international community, international financial institutions, regional nations and the United Nations and its partner organizations. “Civil Society Partners” comprising of both local and international professional, academic, business and civil society organizations and associations must be also welcomed in to the proposed network alliance as committed and supportive stakeholders. Networks for technology and best practice transfers and also networks to access the “voice of the community” on governance must be promoted.

The value of a social network is defined not only by who’s on it, but by who’s excluded,” Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley forecaster.

Wish – 10 – Promote and Embed Ethics, Values and Codes of Conduct

The leadership must encourage and facilitate the promotion of acceptable societal values that will stand the test of time and be acceptable to all segments and distinctive groups comprising the civil society of Sri Lanka. All institutions in governance must be required in addition develop and uphold publicly committed to codes of ethics and conduct with necessary penal sanctions for violations, with the punishments linked to the level of accountability and level of negative impact on society.

Ethics in business (and in governance) is extremely important; your reputation is all you have in life.“ – Sir Freddie Laker

May the realization of above wishes by effective and committed actions of the new Leadership in Governance in the period ahead be blessed by the prayer

May the rains fall in due season,

May there be a high harvest,

May the world prosper,

May the ruler be righteous.

and may the Transformational Leader in Governance post 19th January 2015be true to the Gems of Wisdom articulated in the quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world . . .” – Mahatma Gandhi

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