Leadership challenges for 2017

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In a year where leaders made the headlines, PAWAN LUTHRA hopes a new year gives way to clearer thought and vision

Looking back at 2016, it certainly was a year where leaders made the headlines.
On the world stage, the shock results of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump headlined an interesting year of leadership issues. Closer to home in Australia, there has been much discussion about the leadership styles of the two Ms – Malcolm Turnbull and Mike Baird. Meanwhile, a third M, was also in the fray grabbing the headlines, this time in India: Narendra Modi.
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The former UK Prime Minister David Cameron took his country to a referendum on their on-going relationship with the European Union. With a ferocious exit vote promoted by far right leader Nigel Farage, the nation surprised everyone with their decision to quit. Heads rolled and PM Cameron had no option but to resign as his lack of support in the referendum also brought forth the low popularity he had with the masses.
Meanwhile, in Australian politics, the shock result came from a double dissolution election called by PM Malcolm Turnbull, almost causing his party to lose. Scraping home by one seat in Parliament, Turnbull was criticised for not only his policies (or lack of them, or his inability to implement his vision), but also his ability to relate to the common man. As we head into 2017, polls are telling us how unpopular he is: unless he finds a way to get past the far right in his party and show some actual leadership, the revolving doors of leadership in Australian politics may still be in play.

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NSW Premier Mike Baird and NSW MP Gladys Berejiklian

At the state level, Premier Baird perhaps showed too much leadership. His decision to ban greyhound racing, though accepted by the majority of the community, was not prosecuted enough, causing his critics to go to town about his autocratic style of functioning. The NSW Coalition has done much for NSW since they were elected in 2011, but where they are failing is not telling their story effectively. The public likes hearing feel-good stories of how their lives will be improved. It is time for Mike Baird and his team to get the message out about their good work in transport, infrastructure, hospitals, building and development, helping create a resilient NSW economy.
Amongst the Indian diaspora though, it is the ongoing demonetisation in the home country that is dominating discussion. At the stroke of the midnight hour, a former prime minister had said famously, India became independent from the British. In a move that could be just as historic – or not – it was at the stroke of 9pm that the current prime minister announced his plan to eradicate corruption and the black economy.
The announcement of demonetisation of higher Indian currency was met with initial approval, but with passing time, the public is finding the execution of this policy challenging. The jury is still out as to where this will take the country in the short and long term – and on that the fate of PM Modi will rest. In the election of 2019, will he have captured the imagination of the public with his bold steps, or will the system be too strong for his intervention to be seen as foolhardy?
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And while this was going on, America got itself a new President. Written off by every media outlet, pollster and the general public, Donald Trump surprised the world by pipping Hillary Clinton to the post. If his pre election statements are any indication, the world needs to brace itself for an interesting ride.
It’s come across loud and clear from the year just gone by that there have been challenges in leadership right across the world. Leaders have been unable to guide change effectively; have had difficulty leading their own teams, or have just not been inspiring enough.
Here’s hoping that the turmoil of 2016 gives way to clearer thought and vision in 2017.
On that note, I wish you and yours, a restful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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