Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Frank Phipps | Are women better leaders than men?

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2017 | 2:00 AM

Who would not yearn for the comforts and privileges of leadership?

All traffic stopped at the intersection of Oxford and Old Hope roads when the police outrider's siren squealed to announce the approach of the motorcade for some high-ranking official coming from the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, no doubt on his way to another event of equal importance.

It happened again when the outriders blocked all approaches to the junction of Lady Musgrave, East Kings House and Hope roads to allow free passage for the governor general's entourage returning from the breakfast - the sweet privilege of leaders attending national events; the envy of the weary motorist, grunting and cussing, making his way through the congested traffic.

That is not all that comes to mind when thinking of leadership; a leader's lot is not always a happy one. Consider the misery of King Henry IV bemoaning his lack of sleep: Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

Leadership demands great sacrifice with continuity of effort for a fixed purpose. More important, leadership requires enormous audacity to create an inspiring vision of the future that motivates others to engage with that vision.

 

REBUILDING THE WORLD

 

Kouzes & Posner put the challenge this way in their book, A Leader's Legacy: "Being a leader brings with it a responsibility to do something of significance that makes families, communities, work organisations, nations, the environment, and the world better places than they are today."

A vision for the future of the USA was clearly presented at the recent presidential election where, whether or not the majority liked the brazenness of the candidate, sufficient numbers were motivated to share in his vision to make the USA great again; and we know the result. Unlike the campaign in the UK for the referendum on Brexit that resulted in confusion over how to leave the EU, and causing uncertainty about what to do after getting out; eventually introducing a woman as prime minister, charged with the duty to make Britain great again. The two leaders have the awesome responsibility to do something significant to make their country a better place to live in peace, security and happiness as the legacy of their leadership.

Now that they have met, re-energising the special relationship between their countries and seduced by the lure to greatness, the prime minister postulates a notion to restore their position as the natural leaders of the free world. With only Europe to appease, the head of Her Majesty's government offers herself as a bridge for the Europeans to walk on to reach the president of the USA. The cynic sees this move as an 'alternative fact' of greatness, with the Americans once again singing, "God save the Queen," in the Commonwealth of Nations.

 

DIFFICULT DECISIONS

 

Whatever action is taken at the international level will be of significance for Jamaica, following the democratic tradition and our special relationship with the UK, and the USA up to now. In the quest for greatness, our leaders have the overriding responsibility to decide between pandering to populist adulation that wins elections, and on the other hand, choosing the not-always-popular route for good governance that brings prosperity to the nation. Making this decision could cause sleepless nights or nightmare for leadership,where only time will tell.

Notwithstanding, the immediate pressing concern in Jamaica today is crime. Discarding male dominance for enforcing the rule of law - with a woman as chief justice, also as DPP and attorney general, and so is the acting commissioner of police - there is the challenge for leaders to bring crime under control for Jamaica to be a better place than it is today.

With the recent fierce gender contest for leader of the free world and the gender change for political leaders, here and abroad, only time will tell whether women make better leaders than men.

- Frank Phipps, QC, is an attorney-at-law.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.