Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pakistan - Imran Khan may disagree with this

By Dr Fawad Kaiser  

Political parties want leaders who can help them grow politically and have the influence to advance their status over time. They are leaders who know how to organically manage within the corrupt culture.

PTI supporters and workers are growing noticeably more frustrated with their leaders. The Judicial Commission (JC), tasked with probing allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections, has declared that the polls in question were organised and conducted fairly in accordance with the law. Supporters wanted Imran Khan to achieve a judicial victory and allegations converted into verdicts according to their concerns. The PTI was to provide clarity of purpose and performance expectations, and to chart a roadmap for the future. PTI party followers expected leadership from their leaders but, instead, many supporters are finding themselves being led by decisions that lack focus and vision, mismanaged resources and getting caught up in the politics of blame and shame. Leaders need to step up their game and begin to provide the required strategic support and direction to keep their supporters motivated and their teams inspired.

Leadership is not for everyone; this quickly becomes evident when leaders make bad decisions. Unfortunately, the PTI, like many other political parties, promoted people into leadership positions where they did not really belong, for the wrong political reasons. Whether Imran disagrees with this or not, the common people on the street can sense this. They know when someone is not ready for leadership responsibilities and increased levels of accountability. Supporters are aware of those who assume the role of party nominated watchdogs to ensure that the political culture that is being dictated from the top is being adhered to versus the presence of opportunist leaders with no real agenda to help the masses.

Political workers are inspired when their leaders are empowered to make good, thoughtful and smart decisions, and they respect leaders who take calculated risks, not those merely serving as another layer of wrong politics at the behest of assumptions that stunt reputation and credibility. Furthermore, when leaders make bad decisions, their political workers and supporters begin to lose confidence in them and trust decreases, especially when their poor decision making patterns do not change. Imran Khan has now so many times announced and then retracted his political decisions that he does not appear very different from other politicians, but then his ‘U-turns’ do not help in him gaining enough trust to serve in the role of a leader one can consistently rely upon. Imran Khan has now spent enough time observing what the more stereotyped political leaders do; it would have been best for him to have remained different instead of mimicking their ways and style. Following the JC verdict he did not appear to be a natural leader and missed the opportunity of establishing his own identity and leadership credibility.

Imran is a political Genghis Khan and, of course, this has made everyone on the team uncertain about how to approach him, making the lines of communication disjointed. As a result, he has begun to make bad decisions, some senior PTI party leaders have lost confidence in his ability to lead and the top talent has become divided along the way. Needless to say, performance has declined rapidly and the team has become uninspired. Intra-party elections and audit reports have begun to question the senior management because of its decision to support policies that brought the party down. Imran Khan has reluctantly agreed to these but has never sutured relationships with the people that matter the most.

Power inside the party prevents Khan from listening to direct reports from the frontlines that would help him make better decisions and be more successful for the long term. This person-focused leadership by Imran’s incumbents leads to unsatisfying political agendas and fails the building of internal networks that did not matter in the performance of the cricket team he was responsible to lead. However, Imran has to remember that his long cherished captaincy tenure embodied 10 players whereas now millions of people may be at risk of one wrong decision and poor leadership.

Political parties want leaders who can help them grow politically and have the influence to advance their status over time. They are leaders who know how to organically manage within the corrupt culture, maximise resources, motivate, inspire and, most importantly make good, sound decisions. Imran always talks about how important experience is. He overstates his cricketing experience because it does not exactly fit the situation he is in now. He is guilty of relying on it in a way that is just not going to be that helpful. He tends to rely on past experience that seems useful but is actually sometimes dangerous. He is making bad decisions on complicated issues due to his rigidity and defiance. He does not need public penance for those hasty decisions but atonement does not hurt.

This explains why Imran is having a difficult time transferring his prior success to his new role as a political leader. Just because he has a track record of prior success does not mean that it will apply as well within this current political scenario. As such, he needs to be mindful of critical media appraisal, competence of his co-workers, resources and how to create momentum in this hostile and opportunistic political environment. He needs to know where the potholes are located and how leaders have been historically successful in the political system they are now serving.

Do we have a leader in Imran Khan who is politically motivated? Unfortunately, this is all too common and results in bad decision making, and a short-lived tenure. Political motivations make it difficult to make objective decisions and manage the core responsibilities at hand. Imran Khan has fallen victim to the political trap set at the expense of his rising popularity. He can lose his street power and get sucked into other people’s agendas and motives. Most of the time these motives do not align with his beliefs and, thus, over time he finds himself making poor decisions to keep a bad relationship alive, though at the time he believes it is a good decision to enhance a politically motivated result.

In a hurry to achieve power, leaders can get addicted to corrupt politics. They become blinded by the addiction and lose sight of their primary role and responsibilities as leader, in many cases unknowingly putting their own political reputation and party into quicksand, making it almost impossible to revive any positive momentum and trust from the supporters who depend upon them. When purpose becomes disrupted, you lose touch with your instincts and begin to make decisions without the right dependencies and resources you need to make sound decisions. Imran Khan may disagree with this but then it would not be the first time he did.

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