We Need More Leaders

A year from today, U.S. President Barack Obama would have already said goodbye to eight years in the White House. No more headaches about how he was doing in the polls and which domestic or foreign incident required his intervention. That headache would by then be resting on the shoulders of whoever takes his place.

His legacy, however, would have been a checkered one. He was an anti-war president who had managed to bail out the automobile industry and see his country’s unemployment rate cut in half in seven years. However, criticisms remain on how he managed the Benghazi incident and his “warming up” to world leaders his people warned him against.

In his last State of the Union Address earlier this month, Obama spoke about his nation’s strengths that have served America in good stead for centuries: optimism, work ethic, spirit of discovery and innovation, diversity and commitment to the rule of law. These qualities, he said, “give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.”

Any great leader, especially in his or her final year of a term, looks back, pauses, and analyzes. That’s not a trait for just Obama, though. Here in Saint Lucia, even the Prime Minister himself has openly declared that should his government retain office at the next general elections, healthcare will be the number one priority.

It’s tough being a leader these days. People are demanding so much more from them, it seems. Probably because they are promising the people much more than they can deliver. One of the toughest things in being a leader is having the resources and time that enable the delivery of such promises.

The current Saint Lucia Labour Party government has inundated Saint Lucians with examples of projects and opportunities that would have been provided over the past four years of its present term. The opposition United Workers Party, too, has said what it has done and hopes to do should they regain office. What is interesting, however, is that Saint Lucians are either disinterested or unsatisfied with both sides for various reasons.

As in America’s case, where many Americans have lost faith in both Democrats and Republicans, what should matter most is that leadership needs to come from within the people themselves. Citizens need to become optimists, have a strong work ethic, follow their passion for discovery and innovation relentlessly, embrace diversity and follow the rule of law. We simply need more leaders like that and less followers.

As good – or bad – as a leader is, he or she has to leave the flock sometime. That is why those who constantly see themselves as being led need to step up to the plate and play leadership roles and not resort to simply following the status quo. That is why finding the right kind of representation next time around becomes even more crucial for Saint Lucian voters.

In his final year of his current term, it would be interesting to know what goes through our Prime Minister’s mind these days.

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