Transformation In Leadership

Kushal Pokharel

Heralding a change in the political leadership is one of the dominant narratives of the current political discourse in Nepal. With the emergence of new political system in the country, the need for reforms have become more pronounced, calling for a major overhaul in the manner of doing politics. Having said that, discussions have often been lop-sided with an over-emphasis on transfer of power and authority to the succeeding generation in politics as a panacea for political maladies.

While it would be unwise to belittle the contributions made by the major political party leaders in Nepal for abolishing the autocratic monarchy and introducing democracy, the leaders have utterly failed to transform themselves in the aftermath of big political achievement. Obsession to power remains an obstacle in institutionalising the political gains achieved so far. Engaging in blame game and unhealthy competition is at the heart of Nepali politics. In other words, leaders are busy putting their efforts to tarnish the reputation of their contemporaries to establish own political space. This manifests heavily in political speeches and public forums.
The high-handedness of political leaders in the institutionalisation of corruption is a matter of grave concern. Catering to the needs of their loyal sycophants have created massive burden in the state administration system. Whether it be the case of granting contracts to people with tainted image or appointments in influential political positions, the corrupt mindset has become exposed time and again. Instead of promoting meritocracy, nepotism and favoritism have immensely thrived under the mercy of politics.
In a bid to intensify discussions on the national leadership for future, Nepal literature festival held in Pokhara this week brought together three leaders of high repute in a single forum. While Gagan Thapa represented Nepali Congress, Narayankaji Shrestha was invited on behalf of Nepal Communist Party. Similarly, Rabindra Mishra participated as a political leader of the new party.
Widely known for their fearless spirit and professional integrity, the discussants deliberated over various dimensions of political leadership ranging from the existing traits of leaders to the future direction. The session saw great enthusiasm of the general public who raised some pertinent questions to the leaders at the end. Interestingly, all of them agreed that the present leadership traits being demonstrated in Nepali politics are self-centric and detrimental to national prosperity.
Treating politics as an occupation rather than a service stands as a major bottleneck in leadership transformation. Accumulation of wealth and property via politics has become a lucrative profession in Nepal. Opening ample spaces for corruption, the existing political structure has compounded the problem. For instance, most of the political leaders are busy catering to the personal interests of their henchmen by compromising the government rules and regulations. In addition, the invisible nexus between politicians and business community has provided enough room for foul play further eroding the political leadership’s image. On the contrary, matters pertaining to attitudinal and behavioral change have grabbed limited attention.
Although the significance of ethical and moral values in politics is high, the current debate fails to adequately delve into it. Moreover, self-retrospection and humility as a vital component of leadership change remains overshadowed. Looking at the trend of the crucial meetings of the political parties, it becomes evident that the top leadership in almost every political party is reluctant to listen to the voices of others.
The top leaders are so much involved in justifying their move that they hardly even feel the need to accommodate the voices of others. Such a regressive leadership mindset has stifled innovations in political leadership. Whether we refer to the party’s standing committee meeting of the Nepali Communist Party or the general convention of the Nepali Congress held recently, the psyche of by-passing others to remain at the top is the main thrust.
Hardly has the current discussion hovered around the need of staying updated on global and regional politics to comprehend the national politics. More importantly, engaging in rigorous critical reading and developing the skills of an authentic orator is also high on demand in the political scene.
However, updating doesn’t merely imply staying abreast of the latest political developments around the world but also the significance of reflecting on the changes occurring in the leadership worldwide and making some ground-breaking decisions to embrace timely changes.

It is high time the necessity of leadership transformation be realised at the top level of political leadership. Change in the mind-set of the leaders is the first and foremost step in the process of realisation. Demonstrating by actions, the leaders should be able to rise above petty political interest and think beyond with a long-term vision. Believing in their leadership potentials to transform, the leaders should be open to criticisms and public feedback and incorporate them in their performance.

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