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Joel Providence.
Joel Providence.
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By Joel Providence

  1. While our deaths due to COVID are not as high as neighbouring islands, there is great cause for concern with our current COVID situation.
  • On a per capita basis , active cases and deaths are in the same ballpark. 
  • Grenada’s active cases are coming down rapidly. We are not.

As a nation, we have a lot of work to do. 

  1. At a Zoom meeting on Thursday last, I was commenting on the criticality of decisive leadership at the level of both private sector and public sector institution in particular. 
  • For instance, I am made to understand that a business leader stated that he was not going to interrogate his staff as to whether or not they were vaccinated – in his mind, it is a personal and private matter. No proof required.
  • Some have no programme of research , sensitisation, dialogue on the matter.
  • No clear position on testing
  • No clear position on the treatment of leave for staff
  • Safety for all is not given priority over the misinformed position of one
  • Consequence – we lose person days due to people on leave, stores closed, business interrupted, and there is a loss of business focus
  1. My view coincides with the thesis that , while we look to political leaders for direction on getting us out of this existential quagmire — especially those with governmental and legislative authority ; while we recognise the centrality of medical intervention and solution, we are making a mistake by thinking it is about politics, statute and medicine exclusively — at this time, A behavioural approach to strategy and related leadership is pivotal in reversing our situation.
  2. We need to engage as a collective, all leaders of influence at national, community and institutional levels. The expectation is that these leaders will bring to the forum, these attributes:
  1. First of all, legitimacy
  2. Sense of Accountability (not for selfish pursuits but to nation)
  3. Communication skills (speak well, listen well)
  4. Dedication to common purpose (we should all be on the same road to Damascus – one enemy – COVID) – one vision
  5. Inclusive in outlook (and not divisive in this situation)
  6. Decisive (we are not looking for someone who does like the golfer and throws small pieces of grass in the air to see how the wind is blowing) 
  7. Solution-oriented
  8. Sensitive and sensitised

Limited influence of the leaders individually involved

  1. Leaders one of cloth or another , I am sure, are realising that with COVID, their sphere and degree of influence are compartmentalised according to their area of endeavour and their related power. I give you a couple examples.
  • Radio deejays and artistes have influence on music taste, local vernacular and slang, cultural events and the like – but by themselves, Not on VACCINES.
  • Political leaders by themselves have influence on national economic activity, jobs, contracts for public sector projects, physical and social infrastructure — but by themselves Not on VACCINES.
  • Religious leaders who do not proclaim themselves to be anything but sensible messengers of God) – by themselves , have insufficient influence on the VACCINATION Drive – (I am not speaking here about those who believe that they have a greater messianic gift to heal, through prayer and touch. That I would rather not debate at this time) 
  1. To advance our quest to make the nation safe , our leaders have to secure greater public trust – which means coming to terms with the people’s self-interests, beliefs ( informed and partially informed), their convictions of one type or another, social norms and mores.
  2. We are dealing with Public health and the work “public” is just as important as “health”, in the context of what we are hoping to achieve.
  3. We will effect greater change if there is greater social cohesion – success has been attained in some societies exactly because of the national unity of view – South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Israel Portugal. The more cohesive the society, the more widespread the spirit of community. So, let us link up all legitimate and like-minded leaders — with the Prime Minister as chair.
  4. As we move to win public trust , we still have to recognise that there must be a framework of rules and guidelines. These are required. Some may argue that moral suasion and not coercion is what is required. Latitude is essential, and we must do everything to sensitise our publics, but … while we wait for everyone to come on board, people are dying unnecessarily, and our economy, as whole, is suffering.

 So, let us:

  • Plan together
  • Mobilise together
  • Let us work on social solidarity 
  • Let us support the medical professionals in reaching out to the workplace as we reach out to the homes , the bars, the churches, 

Unfortunately, our geography does not help us much in terms of isolating or separating self-containing communities. All roads lead to Kingstown for most things and we have to involve the public transport who transport persons. This by itself poses problems.

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20 Leadership guidelines

Here are 20 recommended guidelines and actions to which we should attach greater emphasis.

  1. Arrange a virtual assembly of leaders and community representatives — with the primary outcome being a synchronised working position and programme.
  2. Agree on the talking points as well as the action steps
  3. Agree on the resources needed.
  4. Effectively manage all channels of communication — at a national level as well as at the level of the organisation.
  5. Set goals and timelines (let us be clear on how we should end 2021 in the first instance).
  6. Empower community leaders.
  7. Provide incentives to the vaccinated.
  8. Show empathy always – care and compassion for the other person who may have varying view.
  9. Ensure that health centres are easy to reach and open for longer hours, manned by professional medical personnel.
  10. Test aggressively up to a specific timeline and decide the way forward thereafter.
  11. Hold regular workshops (virtually) to assist in the continuing education of community representatives.
  12. Set up a unit to research deliberate misinformation and then publish factual information.
  13. Ease up on the political division – it does not help us in any way.
  14. Ease up on the protests, strikes, withdrawal of service and instead become more engaged in meaningful dialogue.
  15. Start planning for a future post-COVID SVG. Let us set up a re-imagining team.
  16. At the level of the firm, work to reduce any tension between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
  17. Do not shy away from the tough decisions, especially if they are by far , the best options available at this time.
  18. Do not withhold information. Doing so lonely breeds mistrust.
  19. Listen — to everybody, even to those with opposing views. ( but don’t waste time if progress is not being made).
  20. Take responsibility if something goes wrong.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

2 replies on “COVID-19 and the requirement of clear, enlightened and decisive leadership”

  1. Jeanie Ollivierre says:

    Great work JP. Just today I was speaking of iur days in the Public service, the presence, functioning, productivity/achievements of an Inter-Ministerial Committee… the team work that existed. Fully endorse the 20 leadership guidelines. Let’ get going paying clise attention to point 13.

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