As Ms. Bissessar seeks the highest political and executive office in the land, necessity and wisdom demand assessing potential outcomes under her leadership rather than regretful discovery under testing future circumstances.
We live on a complex postmodern global landscape; these are consequential times! Too much is at stake for Trinidad and Tobago to passively accept a boutique designed leader. My sense is that Ms. Bissessar’s giddy progress towards the prime minister’s office is a dubious dynamic more happening around her than crafted by her; and far less controlled by her!
Whose interests is served if a band of expatriate marketing experts hype and psyche us into electing a prime minister without critical scrutiny of her suitability and capacity? This exercise requires sober analysis and considered deliberation.
What is worse, the foreign formulated, carefully Choreographed disguise of Kamla as- feminine power whose time has come- only lends indignity and insult to the many strong intelligent women who have already successfully and legitimately positioned themselves throughout our society.
Notwithstanding the hyperbole of her well managed ascendancy, perhaps it’s yet not too late for careful assessment of Ms. Bissessar’s leadership suitability and capacity. Pride in our independence, indigenous intelligence, and localized wisdom requires no less.
Kamla’s Leadership Suitability:
The study of leadership goes beyond the awed mystique of leaders on followers; and so must we. It includes analyzing and profiling how a leader will likely govern.
Before evaluating her particular leadership capacities (part II) I will attempt to help profile Ms. Bissessar in terms of overarching considerations that usually predict suitability to govern. I refer to physical wellbeing, philosophical grounding, and psychometric bearing. Invariably these will independently as well as interactively impact her ability in office- so some semblance of a serious peek into these areas is important. Regrettably with elections a mere two weeks this has not yet been done; and constitutes a major slip up by our local analysts and intelligentsia.
At 57, kamla appears in good physical shape; but her job application obliges more than passing glance. She will do herself a ton of good to tender for public record a recent medical- especially relating to any current or imminent degenerative impediments. Crises surrounding leaders’ mortality are well documented as triggers for blurred judgments that produce urgent but un-salutary agendas. And since this is a Peoples Partnership we have to multiply this assessment times 6 or 7 and ask: How will unknown illness or demise of any player likely affect chemistry and/or agendas in the coalition?
Next, what is Kamla’s philosophy of life? What core values inform and chart her human outlook and interactions? What is her political philosophy? How appreciated is her regard for the inter-sect between legitimacy and democracy? How sacrosanct does she hold Separation of Powers and under what conditions does she view violations tolerable if at all? And very importantly, how does her grounding on these issues square with other key players in The Partnership?
For example, Jack Warner is known to both espouse and practice a political philosophy that claims “yesterday is yesterday, today is today and tomorrow will be tomorrow” – An ethic that allows him to unflinchingly use abuse and dump many significant bodies and change policies along the way as chips fall where they may. Does Kamla embrace this outlook? And what are the implications for stable governance, as well as her own longevity, given Mr. Warner is kingmaker in the coalition?
Still the biggest question is: Do Kamla’s philosophies as well as those of her federated partners square with the best interests of Trinidad and Tobago? The mischief of accommodations (notwithstanding general pledges to unison) is that each primary player silently retains un-surrendered sentiments of rights to leadership. This means the larger the coalition, and more disparate the philosophy of key players; the more difficult it will be to achieve coherent philosophies of governance to advance the country’s good.
Until their core values and philosophies of life and politics are clarified and reconciled with the nation’s greatest good, the People Partnership reminds of the two headed snake school children found and named Cute Little Harry. That was before tests revealed each head was capable of taking Harry in different directions simultaneously. As he spent most of his time going around in circles Cute Harry was soon renamed Poor Harry. One has to wonder, with multiple heads in this federation, do we have before us a structural and ideological schizophrenia?
Third, in considering her psychometrics, the very nature of the federated beast Kamla leads suggests she needs a sterling psychological construct and healthy well assured emotions. Her psycho-emotional constitution is even more critical as one ponders the strong discordant personalities with whom she has surrounded herself under a euphemistic Peoples Partnership.
Does Kamla have the emotional confidence to contend, far less successfully manage these forces that potentially wait to engulf and overwhelm her? Does she possess the critical psychological bearings to lead while walking on egg shells? What is her emotional capacity for stress, threats and trauma? What evidence does the country have of Kamla’s psychological balance and emotional poise under duress or turbulence?
It is also not unreasonable to inquire whether Ms. Bissessar’s ready embrace of foreign image consultants and easy decent into false accent, hairdo and clothing reflect an unhealthy sense of self and deep identity confusion? Does this not suggest she may be harboring serious unresolved complexes? One has to further ask: Is her quest for top office intended to camouflage or resolve deep seated psycho logic needs and/or serious inner conflicts? Are her actions sending reassuring psychological signals of leadership suitability? Ms. Bissessar will do well to help the nation better understand her inner self and develop confidence in her emotional bearings.
Of course the issue of her purported alcohol dependency does not help; it only serves to further complicate her psychological profile. What is the truth content of this rumor? Is she presently alcohol dependent, a recovering alcoholic; or social drinker with a tendency to overdo? And are there in fact embarrassing documented episodes of indiscretion that are likely to render her psychologically-politically vulnerable when necessary hard decisions must be made?
Perhaps it was hypocritical, even disingenuous of Mr. Panday to raise this matter in run up to UNC leadership elections (given his own past challenges as well as the fact that he kept her in his cabinet under said rumored conditions). Yet short of unequivocal clarity from Ms. Bissessar, this issue discolors her psychological profile and sharply raises her leadership liabilities.
Among others, these are some of the physical, philosophical and psychological considerations that challenge Ms. Bissessar’s suitability for high office. Clearly there are matters here she must urgently address and clarify in order to be seriously considered for the position to which she aspires.
Dr. Raymond S. Edwards President/CEO, MOHDC http://www.mohdc.com Raymond Edwards, Ph.D. Organizational Psychologist & Minister of Religion: is an international development consultant and executive Leadership behavior specialist.