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Looking for ideas and not just leaders

The epic question: did the times make great leaders? Or did great leaders make the times? It doesn't take too much work to describe Bermuda as living in perilous times of political disillusionment, economic uncertainty and social disquiet.

The emergence of another political action group is only symptomatic of disjointed fragmentation, manifesting the need for resolve in so many areas of community life. The economy and who, or what, can fix it tops the list.

That it cannot happen without a strong, united community means it cannot happen without leadership that brings people and resources together. This casts a light on the political component.

A pandemic that will continue to affect the world and Bermuda for years has a new normal, best seen as the foreseeable future and augurs a need to be innovative to navigate new demands and ways to deal with emerging options.

All of which requires a non-traditional response in leadership.

Countries that can adapt quickly to change will have the best chance of surviving.

It sounds easy, but to be spontaneous, tradition must take a back seat. Playing by the old rulebook may not, or invariably will not, keep pace with the demand to respond to the pulse of change.

Four years ago, America was in the beginning stage where there was a need to escape from stale governance and processes observed as the traditional way. Donald Trump tapped into that wave as a non-politician and one observed as an outsider.

Bermuda, too, in a less grander scale saw the toppling of the One Bermuda Alliance as a reason to get rid of an old paradigm. In some ways it was more of mass sentiment than leaders.

The leader, somewhat similar to the story of the fly on the axle of a carriage, assumed all the dust was being caused by the flapping of his wings. To the contrary, the country is falling apart, in part as a reaction to the leader.

Two particular lessons to be observed — a leader can emerge, but it is very important if not crucial that they know why they have gained favour.

They must also deliver on the promise and satisfy the unease that called them into leadership.

If they misinterpret their mandate, the same people who ushered them in, will push them out with contempt.

This is a challenge for any new organisation or voice that arises in the community, such as the FDM. Their message has to be in front of them, if it is indeed a movement, then the language and ideas of that movement must precede them.

If it becomes a question of choosing personalities leaving the ideas as “coming later” then the only rational response becomes dissatisfaction and not progressiveness.

Dissatisfaction can be a catalyst for change, but isn't change, it's truly a protest.

How many times have we seen sit-outs on the lawn or marches, but then when it is over, we have seen the protest go back to the classroom or the workplace and its business as usual, with a few trinkets added.

In a book, I once commented that there will come a time when a country will not be judged by the size of its landmass or population, but rather by the size of its ideas.

In that regard, leaders have no limit to their stature; in fact, their stature can be measured by what they mean to the world.

The term “think world and act local” is the axiom for leaders everywhere. If the example on a local level is not exemplary to the world, it is not worth a local effort either.

If Bermuda is not trying to be an example for its neighbours, then it is not worth the effort.

We have enough examples of what is not a true participatory democracy, we do not need another example.

I, for one, am not looking for another leader; I am looking for another idea.

The times are calling for a great leader, but more so a great message. I think most people would agree. Let's see what emerges.

Time and place: Donald Trump may not be seen as a particularly good leader, but he was elected at a time when a large percentage of the United States wanted change from the usual type of governance (Photograph by Evan Vucci/AP)

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Published September 18, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 18, 2020 at 9:02 am)

Looking for ideas and not just leaders

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