Visionary and transformative leadership

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ON May 16, 2015, a visionary and transformative leader was sworn into the office of President of Guyana. President David Granger, having served Guyana in numerous capacities – perhaps most notably, as head of the Guyana Defence Force – was prepared and ready for his role.

As a respected soldier, successful entrepreneur, prolific author, noted historian, dedicated husband and father, one of Guyana’s most accomplished sons was chosen by the people to lead the country into a new era. The fact that David Arthur Granger would be indisputably included among Guyana’s most transformative and visionary leaders became evident almost immediately.

Prior to being elected as Guyana’s ninth president, Brigadier David Granger had already demonstrated, through his published writings, a detailed understanding of Guyana’s history. He had proven the depth and breadth of his grasp of the nature of the challenges faced by Guyanese. And he had articulated the fact that a vision for overcoming those challenges and fostering development had not only been conceptualised in his mind but also that he had pragmatic plans for their timely realisation.

Visionary leadership and transformative management are different but related character traits that are usually present to varying degrees in the most effective leaders. Those traits are understood and precisely defined and described by experts. A visionary political leader is one who has a compelling vision for the country. He can see beyond the ambiguity and challenges of today to an empowering picture of tomorrow.

A transformative manager is one who can identify needed change, creating a path to guide the change through inspiration, example, implementation, and execution.
In simple terms, a visionary leader sees what is possible; a transformative manager is able to formulate a plan and implement the means to realise that vision. The fact that David Granger meets both of those criteria is beyond dispute. Perhaps a few examples are in order.

President Granger has an extensive and detailed written record of his thoughts. He has articulated a vision of a self-sufficient nation which will prosper in harmony with the environment, and develop hand-in-hand with an ever-changing global environment. He has, in other words, described a structure within which Guyanese will develop themselves, taking into account the dynamic nature of local and international realities.

One example of this vision is President Granger’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS). Basically, the GSDS is “The use of biodiversity and a decarbonised approach that endeavours to provide an inclusive and better quality of life for all Guyanese.”

But it does not end with the vision; the transformative aspect of the matter is key to achieving the vision. In that category, the president has described and explained numerous initiatives and programmes intended to reach that goal. The multi-faceted, tailored approach to renewable energy-use is one example. The conservation of forests initiative, emphasis on inter-regional trade, development of village economies, protection of endangered species, and sustainable land use are all means to the attainment of the goal of a ‘green Guyana.’

There are numerous other examples of President Granger’s visionary+transformational approach to development and progress. His goal of closing the gap between hinterland and coastal living-conditions is accompanied by a 10-point plan to achieve that goal. The President’s objective of equal opportunity to educational opportunities goes together with the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project (GESIP). His Excellency’s desire for equality for women is similarly based on a well thought out roadmap.

In summary, vision is the ability to “see” a goal, and transformation is the way to reach that goal. Some leaders have vision, other leaders are transformational, but only a few leaders are both visionary and transformational. Guyana is blessed with such a leader as president.

Arguably, currently, there is no other person in Guyana’s political arena who even comes close to having those innate qualifications, not to mention unquestioned academic accomplishments and a scandal-free history. One may comfortably say that the choice of leader is obvious because no one else is in David Granger’s league.