The following is commentary by Dr. Charles H. Wheatley
It was a sad moment to learn about the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II. I extend condolences to the members of the Royal family and her loyal subjects throughout the Commonwealth. May her soul rest in peace after 70 years of faithful service.
The late Monarch has been an example living in and adapting to the changing present. Reflect on her leadership as you read the next four Wheatakes.
The first quality of leadership which I am going to reflect on is “Understanding and Leading Change: Be Relevant and Adaptable in a Changing Environment,” The death of the Monarch has changed the environment gin the Commonwealth and here in the B. V. I. Territorial plans are changing to facilitate a burial and a coronation.
The leaders of the pre-Ministerial period in the British Virgin Islands did not have today’s social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. While I may refer to their achievements as examples, I am aware that today’s leaders require a different set of skills in addition to those of the past. Regardless of the period you are thinking about or in the leader should be relevant and adaptable to the changing environment of that period. One cannot adequately solve today’s problems using only the skills and knowledge of yesterday. These platforms are dominating the way we do things and require us to do things differently from our forebears. I can sit at my desk instantly encourage or inform millions of people. The important factor to keep in mind is we are living in a constantly changing global community. Yesterday’s approach to solving a particular problem may not solve the problem today because the players may have changed, the environment may have been modified, the moods, attitudes, needs and expectations of those who are being served may have changed. Therefore, one should not approach the problem with the old mindset, the skills you have used and the attitudes you have adopted and grown into without applying them to the present in the present. To be successful one needs to be present in the present and be flexible to change, change the pre-conceived ideas, policies, principles, and strategies to reflect the’ needs of the present. Each day you wake up you have become a changed person in some way. You wake up in an environment that has undergone changes while you slumber. Each gun shot, each drug raid, each road accident, each plane crash, each home that was burnt, each death in the community, each gold medal won, each cargo boat that has made it safely to port, each passenger ferry that offers better travelling comfort, each law that goes into effect, all these occurrences modify the environment in which we live, worship, do business, and pro-create. The successful and progressive leader needs to be cognizant of this changing environment. Being perceptive is just the beginning, the leader has to prepare and equip himself/herself with the relevant and adequate skills, attitudes, and knowledge base to be able to guide the followers correctly. In other words, the progressive leader has to be a beacon of hope, while waging the battle for success and lifting his/her followers to higher levels of awareness, possibilities, and achievements. The days of mediocrity are over my friends. Believe it or not they have had their day and it is time for change. No square pegs in round holes. If these achievements are to be effective the leader has to change his/her goal of self-aggrandizement in public office with all its roaming tentacles gathering for the personal storehouse while the people under the leadership perish physically, emotionally, financially, socially, educationally and culturally.
The successful leader should reflect the qualities that the followers would find meaningful, motivating and inspiring to them, so that they would strive to emulate those qualities in the pursuit of their purposes in life. The mantle of leadership is not an ego trip. It is a unified march to success and victory by enlisting all the forces in the march, creating a highway of opportunities for them to advance, acknowledging and rewarding them for their contributions to the achievements along the way.
The pace of change can be overwhelming sometimes and it becomes difficult for the leader who is trying to keep a pace with the changing scenes and circumstances but that is the fiery furnace of leadership. The leader should not be swelled up or consumed, paralyzed or submerged in action. The inability to adapt to the changes to which the leader is called to respond may cause the organization under the leadership and the people being led to suffer. The British Virgin Islands is currently on political life support. The clarion call is for each of us to help the Territory to overcome the challenges of this life support for the benefit of those on the stage of life and those unborn. But how can anyone help in this shroud of secrecy I ask. The leadership cannot succeed without the valiant, civic-minded progressive support of the people.
I leave with you words by Charles Darwin:
“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survive; it is not the strongest that survive; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”