Over the years, with a middle class population in most countries bridging the gap between the poor and the rich, governance has taken more significance. Much like the middle class, the below poverty line pool, and the elite pool, want to be in safe hands. Good governance is the call of the times.
Governance has increased in relevance, because people have become more aware and alert. They are more demanding of their fundamental rights. They mean business when they vote for somebody to run the country or any section. People are more conscious of what the government does with the taxes they pay.
Governance by itself does not imply the government. The government is an instrument of governance. Or one can say a part of it. A government makes national decisions. The implementation is passed on to entities that may or may not be related to the government’s administrative reign.
Since governance is decision-making and implementation and the government is one of the actors, the spotlight is to establish the efficacy of the decision-makers. While the government is a top-level governance actor, low-level governance actors are local administrative bodies that manage affairs of an area.
So what are the qualities of good governance? Good governance requires joint participation of everyone. Like two hands that are required to clap, so too unity is required to implement something that is going to help the society.
Good governance requires a strict rule and law framework. It requires impartial enforcement agencies of these laws. Laws make the land. If the law of the land is weak, it will give many exit paths for bad governance actors to save themselves.
Be the change the world wants to see
There’s never a dull moment in the life of a social giver. This is a person who believes in doing things rather than waiting it to happen. The social giver is a rainmaker. Never waiting for the rains to arrive, but rather striving hard to make things happen.
The society needs such people in leadership positions, people who rise above the bureaucracy. Who would not want to make it their walking stick? These people look beyond it. Their awareness is commendable. Their intellect is worthy of being emulated.
Are you someone who stands up to be counted? Do you believe in making things happen in your society? Then the time is right. So many opportunities are there for the taking. All around, so many things need your attention.
Be it the deprived households, people in a disaster stricken society, a community in conflict or the shadowy ghetto in the corner of the horizon. They all need help. You can be the change. Working for the society is not easy. It comes with lots of responsibility. You will be looked at, but not looked after. You are exposed, like the lone warrior in the arrow-raining battle-field.
Be the change the world wants to see, said Mahatma Gandhi. That’s what you should be. If you feel that a certain section of the society does not have electricity, don’t just post a letter to the local energy authority. Gather support. Muster up the courage to stand up for what you think is right. And do flail your conviction by lopsided mediocrity.
Be strong in spirit, resolute in demeanor. And be convinced about the purpose. These three form the backbone of any society-changing endeavor. You can do it, if you think you can.
Candidates or Party
Over generations people and the electorate have been in the habit of electing people purely on party lines and in the process though there were quite a few good candidates who got elected, a large number of not so good candidates also got elected purely based on the image and goodwill of the party. While people may argue that it is the party which drawn up the manifesto and make poll promises, candidates should not be given too much of an importance as long as they follow the party line and stand by the commitment made by the party to the people at large.
However, there is a different shade of opinion that it is the individual candidate who represents his constituency who is the most important link between the people and the party or government. Hence if the candidate is a capable person, without being corrupt or indulging in nepotism, then he or she would be able to establish a much more direct rapport with the people and serve his or her constituency that much better. There could be many problems which are unique to each region and constituency and hence having a straight jacket approach may not help. There needs to be adjustments and rethinking which may be away from the party line and for this the best person would be the local candidate.
Hence it would always be better to elect a candidate using a judicious mix of both party promises and manifesto and also by looking into the profile of the candidate and his commitment levels. Electing a candidate merely based on the party’s symbol could be unsuccessful because the person may not be successful in his efforts to manage the constituency.
Do you personally value Good Governance?
Gone are the days when politicians could take the electorate for granted; People have become more informed and are not taken in easily by glib talking politicians. Politicians who have ruled the roost previously by dividing the electorate and people on the basis of religion, color and creed are being shown the door without any second thoughts. So politicians and political parties should wake up to this realization and performance and good governance should be the mantra if they are to survive and take politics as a serious alternate career. The population in any country is made up of mostly the struggling and toiling masses for which survival and making ends meet is in itself a big job. Under such situations, they do not have the time nor the inclination to engage in activities which divide rather than uniting the nation.
The recent financial meltdown and the events that followed it have been traumatizing to say the least for large sections of the population and coming out this extremely difficult situation on their own, would be almost impossible. The government of the day has to rise to the occasion and not only promise good governance but also deliver on their promise. The issues confronting the nation are huge and vary from social issues like drug menace, homelessness and destitution, to more complicated issues like rising unemployment, falling living standards etc. These are the real issues which are of importance to any nation and not artificial divisions brought about in the name of religion, color or creed. So governance is all about understanding the pulse of the electorate and this has to be kept in mind.
Politics in the Age of Information
The age of information technology has created a stir in election procedures all over the world. Traditional media has taken a backstage to informative media where people are more focused on awareness building through media like radio, news papers and internet. Since the past decade or so, information technology has changed both in structure and content. Recent years have seen penetration of internet in every political life from campaigning to online forums and mailing lists. The common man is more powerful with respect to increased internet availability where every individual is geared towards participation in discussion forums and political updates.
Information technology plays a vibrant role in agenda building to political strategizing. Today internet has been a success story not only in political leadership building but in conduct of election processes. Political parties can better connect to individual concerns and share their ideas and solutions. Better networking and political communication has been aptly rewarded via internet applications. Election histories worldwide received a drastic change in domain when internet affected politics at every stage from sourcing to development. In other words such a measure has induced internet dependency on election outcomes in some countries. Voters are more equipped to handle election matters and respond effectively to political campaigns. Various channels have been promoted to ease the election phase.
Internet revolution has strengthened the democratic process and made it more transparent. However it should be noted that technology cannot be the only solution to political chaos but such matters need to be properly scrutinized to alleviate fraudulent information from trespassing. But the influence of technology parameters in political functioning cannot be denied as politics worldwide enters a new information order in this century. Online media has helped political process to be effective and has added quality to it. Such a situation has asked for expertise in dealing with information distribution and control of networks.
Personality characteristics of ‘successful’ politicians
The personality traits of many political leaders is important for a number of reasons and some have looked at successful politicians as compared personality traits with the performance of their governments. This showed four personal characteristics on which success of a political leader crucially depends.
The fact with it is that being ‘successful’ is not an end in itself. While politics is about winning elections, essentially it is about a lot more than that; it is about the fate of the nation, the people, the world. Many of these politicians who have scored highly in this analysis are controversial figures and many will say have made some people’s lives worse.
I am interested in making politics accessible and successful, meaning we improve the lives of the people in the country (and this has nothing to do with money). Any analysis can only analyze what is being looked at and so some characteristics won’t show up in the results. Maybe if we changed what ‘success’ means and looked for other characteristics we would be looking at a very different list of people.
Can Politicians Learn Lessons?
I’ve been thinking about the many political issues in the country, and I can’t help but wonder, can politicians learn lessons? I certainly hope so.
We all make mistakes, and most of us learn from those mistakes. I wonder, do politicians learn from their mistakes? I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I’m not in a position of power. Has power gone to the heads of some politicians, causing them to make mistakes they otherwise wouldn’t have made? I don’t know, I suppose it’s difficult to resist the influence of one’s colleagues. And doesn’t it seem that politicians have forgotten, or never learned, how to err on the side of caution?
You’d think that those in positions of such power would err on the side of caution in every instance. But instead they do the opposite. They err on the side of the extravagant, funded with other people’s money. If they acted so recklessly in their personal lives they’d all be divorced. But somehow many of them skate through with little or no criticism. Sure, many people made big gains in the last election, but the worst of the gamblers are still around. What does that tell you?
The difference between successful politicians and successful private business people is that the private businessman doesn’t normally have the opportunity to use rhetoric to explain why he miserably failed his clients or investors. If he does get that chance, he better prove himself the next time around with solid results or he’ll surely be fired. For some reason, our politicians aren’t held to the same standard.
Ultimately, is it the politicians who need to learn a lesson, or the voters? I fear we may find out the answer, one way or the other, the hard way.
Management Lessons from Successful Politicians
What can we learn from successful elected officials? Well, there are a few straight-forward and time-tested techniques that work in politics and that can be used in any political setting. Just like a good campaign slogan, these 20 lessons are seemingly simple but convey a big message.
1. Call people by name.
2. Find out what they want.
3. Give them your time.
4. Go to all parts of your community.
5. Listen carefully.
6. Don’t try to do too much.
7. Keep in touch.
8. Simplify your message.
9. Maintain key principles.
10. Think several steps ahead.
11. Recognize your supporters.
12. Listen to your opponents.
13. Adjust your strategies so they correspond to, or reshape, reality.
14. Marshal your resources.
15. Consider new perspectives.
16. Develop your skills.
17. Pay attention to those who may feel excluded.
18. Understate your case.
19. Don’t accord too much weight to your greatest fans and critics.
20. Lead and serve.
You have the ability
Believe that you have ABILITY. We are able to do things today like never before. We are able to move beyond hoping and dreaming. What we have desired to do for our society can become a reality. Indeed, God provides Gifts and endowments that enable our efforts. The abilities are our skills, talents, capabilities and general aptitude for accomplishment. Cherish them. Protect them. Do not disregard or diminish any gift God has given you in serving people and your society.
Improve your efficiency
Leadership requires us to be competent and effective in our work. If anything, our society is guilty of us for spinning our wheels and making a lot of noise, without accomplishing very much! How often have you felt that we work so hard and achieve so little? Planning meetings, seminars, training sessions, etc; we are so busy getting ready to do something. Mobilization announcements, committees, revisions, and so on; yet, we barely move forward. Why?
Maybe we are ignoring our development plans and our visions. Our development plans need us to work with efficiency. This carries with it the thought of excellent performance. But performance with impact; Just having the talents is not enough. Those talents are to be effective, as in get results! “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence in our leadership keeps us connected to our society;”
You had people when you sought for leadership. Keep them on your team even long after assuming power and keep them engaged in service and decision making. Place each of them where you think they can be helpful. One of the traits of outstanding leaders is that they properly place people within a team. Good leaders have the ability to see their people, sense where they are and put them in the right place. So why do so many leaders place so many people in so many wrong places?
I’ve identified five reasons.
1. Failure to know the requirements needed to make a job successful.
I’m not talking about the job description, and I’m not talking about how you do a job. I’m talking about what a particular person has to do to be successful. Make a list of those qualities. It could be two or three things; it could be 10. Whatever those things are, you have to go out and find people who have a giftedness to match those qualities so that you put the right people in the right place.
2. Failure to know the skills and the giftedness of the person.
Sometimes we know what gifts and skills are required for success in a particular job, but we do a poor job evaluating the giftedness of the person we place in that position. Maybe we know a particular job needs someone who is detail-oriented, but we fail to recognize that the person we’re putting in that position breaks out in hives when overwhelmed with details.
3. Failure to move people when either the job or the person is changing.
While it’s common for people to get promoted out of a job that really fits their skills, it’s also possible for them to stay in a position so long that they no longer do it well.
As a leader, you might place someone in a position that is a great match with that person’s uniqueness and giftedness, only to look up later and realize that the person’s productivity has fallen sharply.
Something changed. Maybe the job changed. Maybe the organization changed. Maybe the person changed. Maybe you changed. Maybe everything changed.
I have found many people end up in the wrong place only because they stayed in the right place too long. They were in the right place in the beginning, but the right place becomes the wrong place if the job changes or if the person changes. So the right place can become the wrong place over a matter of time.
4. Failure to be patient.
Sometimes the person is in the right place, but they have to grow into it. And not only do they have to grow into it, but they also have to be trained and developed into it. You know they have the giftedness, they have the ability, they have the passion; but they need time and someone to help them. Smaller organizations often can’t afford to hire the best, so they have to hire young people with great potential and then train them.
In “The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork” the writer talks about the ‘Law of Dividends’, which is, “Investing in the team compounds over time.” As you invest in your team, especially if you have them in the right place, the team is going to compound in a very positive way for you. Of course, if you don’t have the right players in the right place, time isn’t going to do it.
5. Failure to prepare.
Many times we haven’t done enough front-end homework as leaders, so we aren’t prepared to place people where they can grow and can blossom.
When we consistently fail to place people in the right place within the team, several things inevitably infect our team like an angry parasite. Morale suffers, people lose their willingness to play as a team and confidence erodes. As a result, potential goes unrealized, progress is hindered and our competitors benefit.
On the other hand, organizations do best when the people within them are carefully put in the right places. People are encouraged and fulfilled, growth is ensured, teamwork is increased and victories are secured. And, for leaders, there is a huge reward in seeing your players in the right place, doing the right thing for the right reasons.