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Few are called, fewer are chosen

Staff of The Royal Gazette took part this week in a management training programme designed to foster improved leadership among those in positions of authority, and those who might be on such a path in future. Given the discourse of the past few days, significantly for the purpose of this missive the topically sensational news that has come out of Alaska Hall, it is pertinent, then, to ask the question: what kind of leader are you?

Michael Dunkley would have asked himself this very question in front of the mirror during his period as leader of the United Bermuda Party while the now defunct party was in Opposition, and in more recent times as the Premier of Bermuda and face of the One Bermuda Alliance.

So, too, Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, of whom this time last week many questions were being asked. We have some of the answers; others will find their way into the political mainstream as they must.

These are interesting days for the Progressive Labour Party and for Bean himself. Both may be defined by how they approach the next three to six months, starting with an eagerly awaited first return to Parliament since it was confirmed that the house that the Working Men's Aid & Helping Society and the Ladies of Industry built in 1896, and which Charles Daniels improved upon almost 100 years later, was in some degree of turmoil.

Getting six disaffected senior people onside while potentially introducing a newcomer to the fully paid-up ranks of the Lower House, should Diallo Rabain win the by-election for Devonshire North Central in the wake of the resignation of Glenn Blakeney, will not be straightforward.

These are indeed crucial days for Bean. Earmarked as a future leader by Ewart Brown before their relationship soured, he may have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to get heavyweights the likes of Zane DeSilva, Walton Brown, Kim Wilson, Derrick Burgess, Rolfe Commissiong and Wayne Furbert to sing from the same party hymn sheet without muttering under their breath.

It is enough to give the OBA pause to take a page out Sir John Swan's 1985 playbook and call a snap election to catch the Opposition when perceived to be at its lowest ebb. But, then, perhaps, faster than an AC50 can get from the Great Sound to Hamilton Harbour and back, Dunkley snaps out of his fantasy in the hope that a post-America's Cup 2017 election victory would provide the dream date.

Flashback to 30 years ago, though, and Sir John pounced on what he saw as a broken Opposition in the wake of four sitting MPs protesting vehemently against the leadership of Dame Lois Browne-Evans — sense the similarities? The difference then was that Gilbert Darrell, Walter Brangman, Austin Thomas and Lionel Simmons left the party altogether and formed the National Liberal Party. Cue the most lopsided election in the history of party politics, 31-7 to the UBP with two seats going to the “rebel” NLP, not much more than 2½ years after the ruling party had won the previous election 26-14.

It was seen as a masterstroke by Sir John and sent the PLP into a tailspin from which it did not recover until 1993, when the Opposition recouped the 13 years lost after the previous high-water point and signalled the beginning of the end for the UBP. This was followed by the equally seismic, eight-seat swing that brought an Opposition to power for the first time in 1998.

Sir John Swan showed what kind of leader he could be by not only striking while the iron was hot, but also by realising that his opponent had no irons to strike with.

So what kind of leader are you?

Are you a leader by example, leading from the front? Do you lead by consensus, seeking collaboration for the collective good? Or are you the empowering leader who accepts that others may be better equipped to take the lead, albeit temporarily?

Which one is Marc Bean? And which one is Michael Dunkley?

The best and most effective leader is that which can flit between each of the three, adapting to change based on the overall objectives.

Clues may be as simple to find as employing the primary colours in a rainbow. Management training is adept at associating colours as a way of getting to the root of a person's personality profile — “What are you like?”

Psychology gone mad? Maybe. Maybe not. But fancy this: red for no-nonsense dictator; yellow for a man of ideas and innovation; green for a follower; blue for a cool but detached observer.

When used effectively, the insights into how you think can be quite revealing and scarily accurate for some; gobbledegook for others. But how otherwise might truer colours have been portrayed to capture the recent mood in and around Alaska Hall?

Red for mad as hell? Yellow for weak at the knees? Green for the covetous, would-be leader? Blue for it's all gone wrong?

At about 10am today, we may find out when the face of the PLP is meant to be presented as one. The OBA will be watching. Closely. Sniffing, prying for any hint of division.

Challenging times: Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, yesterday announced Diallo Rabain as the candidate for the Progressive Labour Party in Devonshire North Central. These are crucial days for Mr Bean, and he may have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to get the heavyweights who have quit the Shadow Cabinet to sing from the same party hymn sheet without muttering under their breath (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 11, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 11, 2015 at 12:57 am)

Few are called, fewer are chosen

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