I must admit that I had a good laugh when I read in the Express that Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley was questioning the presence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the PowerGen facility during the “blackout” last week. It shows how little he understands leadership and, particularly, a leadership that is caring and inspirational.
In fact, in today’s leadership discussions, the conclusion is that the only form of successful leadership is “servant leadership”. Indeed, the search for answers to inspiring organisations and people have now gone into the realm of the spiritual, with studies being done on the leadership styles of Jesus and Rama. The Honourable PM, from day one in office, stressed the need for servant leaders. She walks her talk.
I have no doubt that the PM’s presence would have served as a strong motivator to the employees of PowerGen that the highest levels of Government care about their work and their contribution to the country.
Political leadership is not just about winning an election. It is also about mobilising the human resources of the country to contribute to productivity and national development.
In every crisis, the PM has been present on the front line. The floods of 2010 saw her going to flood-hit areas to meet with the people. During the State of Emergency, she visited the security forces on duty across the country. The visit to PowerGen is a continuation of her practice of a leadership style that identifies the leader with the people.
The PM understands the importance of appreciation and gratitude to people who work on behalf of the nation. This was no small matter. The loss of electricity affected the nation in many ways. The hospitals, though they had generators, could have been affected if the blackout were to persist for days. The water supply was also disrupted. The traffic signals were not working.
This is a situation where the PM correctly took charge and did what was necessary. Nothing less would have been expected of the PM, the Minister of Energy and other ministers in a situation like this. They acted appropriately and came out with flying colours.
The presence of the PM at the centre of the efforts to bring back the power also signalled that the Government takes the matter of accountability to the people seriously. Whether she scored political points or not is immaterial. What is important is that when the occasion arose, she responded as a leader is expected to, and that is by leading from the front. I wonder if she had not done so, what would have been the comment of Dr Rowley?
Incidentally, the Honourable Prime Minister has never shunted the media. She has always been available, and in the specific case referred to by Dr Rowley, she has given two statements to date.
Minister of Local Government