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23 February 2018


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Phil, that depends on the circumstances and often the actions of others.

Sometimes inaction can lead to worse situations in the future. If Chamberlain had stood up to Hitler rather than acquiesce war may have been prevented.

The fact that there was a NATO ready to fight in Europe evidently prevented another European war in the latter half of the 20th Century.

'The price of peace is eternal vigilance' has been attributed to many leaders in the past. Maybe therefore, it's a self evident truth that those in power have come to recognise as opposed to those not in power who don't want to be bothered until it's too late?

We can't exclude the potential for war just because we don't want one. We didn't attack Japan in 1941 and had we been prepared to stand up against their initial aggression in China especially, they may not have gone to war.

The basic problem here is human nature. Those who don't want to fight a war usually end up fighting those who do. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them. That's because most bullies are cowards who hide their true feelings under a cloak of bravado.

Surely a good leader wouldn't lead us into wars in the first place Paul.

Everyone has their own ideas about what makes a good leader?

The essence of leadership is the ability to lead people to achieve stated objectives. Endless debates at Staff Colleges around the world centre on what is per-eminent? Command or Leadership?

Senior officers will tend to agree on the former whereas junior officers will tend to agree on the latter. The truth is that the proof will be in the ability of the person to achieve prior stated objectives.

As has been pointed out, peacetime leaders are often useless in war. That is because political leaders don’t want achievers to outshine them. So they appoint those in peacetime who in wartime can’t manage the battles that win wars. After a war is won, the winning generals are usually and rapidly sidelined with ceremonial duties or enforced retirement.

The acid proof of good leadership is to look at who a leader selects and appoints on his or her team.

Are those appointed by team leaders ethical, honest, truthful and proven achievers? Are they responsible people who can learn from their mistakes?

Good leaders must however be sufficiently egocentric to not be worried by those they appoint and who might subsequently outshine them.

When that acid test is applied to say PNG leaders, what would be the verdict?

What would be the verdict anywhere in the world?

"Those who fear public perception will never make tough decisions, though the facts may be compelling. Leadership is about decision-making."

With our leaders captured by the dominating 24 hour media cycle and the rise of social media and all that entails, including substituting opinion for fact, is it any wonder that there is a dearth of true leadership.

Barack Obama was one of the few leaders who attempted to move beyond that constraint but he failed miserably.

I have, through long interest, devoted a great deal of time to trying to discover what makes a great leader.

This is a difficult task, because leadership is very much a contextual thing, greatly impacted by personal, political, cultural and environmental factors.

A person may be a very effective leader under a certain set of circumstance but prove to be quite hopeless in others.

So, in a military context, many an effective general in the peace time military bureaucracy has been unable to rise to the task of combat leadership.

Any student of World War 2 in particular, knows that many of the Allied generals and admirals had to learn a completely new set of war fighting skills in the first, painful part of that war.

Many fell be the wayside, being sent into non-combatant roles or early retirement when their inadequacies did not stand up to examination in the field.

Curiously, it seems that the most effective military leaders often have quite distinctive personalities. Thus Field Marshall Douglas MacArthur was a monumentally egotistical self publicist of the first order, while Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery was similarly egotistically, frequently rude and apparently indifferent to the feelings of others.

However, the great military leaders all appear to have some common characteristics: a great deal of self confidence, a ferocious intellectual capacity for both seeing the "big picture" as well as grasping detail, technical competence and an instinct for recognising and seizing opportunities.

The very best leaders in any sphere (within a democracy) have a very well developed set of moral and ethical values. They know what they are doing but, more importantly, they know why they are doing it.

More importantly, and taking Sam Koim's point, they feel acutely their accountability to those they lead to achieve the desired outcomes, be they military or political.

Thus, Abraham Lincoln experienced great personal anguish over the material and human costs of the American Civil War, yet remained unwavering in his commitment to achieving the victory that he believed, rightly as it transpired, was necessary for America to achieve its true potential.

Right now, my sense is that the democratic world is acutely short of leaders who understand why they can or should be doing things. They may be technically competent to a high degree but, in truth, they are merely elected bureaucrats.

They have a problem with what President George HW Bush famously described as "that vision thing".

The USA had, in President Obama, a man who I think understood this and was able to articulate an idea about how a new America might look.

Sadly, due to a rear guard action by the most fearful, ignorant and stupid elements in American society, combined with his own failings in action as distinct from thought, President Obama was what I would call an heroic failure after his terms of office.

Peter O'Neill is, by any measure, a failure as a leader. He and his government have failed their country because they have allowed venality, self interest and expediency to guide their actions.

There is no evidence of a vision splendid for the future, much less the will and capacity to create such a future.

By any metric you can name, nothing has improved under Mr O'Neill's leadership. Mostly, things have gone backwards as PNG apparently slides slowly into penury and misery.

Australia has hardly been better served for many years, although the levels of blatant self interest, corruption and incompetence seem much less evident.

Still, there is the same sense of opportunities being squandered by a political class more obsessed with the gaining and retention of power than actually doing anything meaningful to secure the long term prosperity and
well being of the country.

So, I reckon Sam is right. The problem now is to infect the leadership of PNG with the same notion of what it is to be an effective and accountable leader, working for the greater good.

Good luck with that.

Being a responsible leader is the best way to avoid misperception and assure accountability.

Well Sam we are supposed to have our opinions.

To some of us the Schram issue is now a circus...anyone in this country will have and form any opinion they want to.

When Albert Schram was confirmed by the Council as VC, did they have all the facts at their disposal to make an informed decision for the position of VC? The most important document was the certificate!

Is he a scapegoat in this whole saga? If he did not have the qualifications as alluded to by the Council, then who is at fault here now?

Schram maintains that he was appointed by the Council. He also maintains that Council approved his travels for Unitech business oversease.

Among other things the Council maintains that he does not have a proper qualification, he took many uncessary travels oversease, and engages consultants with questionable outputs. There are supposedly 22 allegations labelled against him.

When you have such a situation, any inquisitive mind will form and have an opinion.

But otherwise keep up the good work. We hope truth and justice will prevail so that Unitech can continue to deliver to its students and the community.

Yes, Sam, "people tend to attribute" as of eons of taim bipor.

Example, when first seeing maps by Google (imagery garnered from satellites), people responded defensively with supposition that not only are they being watched by forces unknown, but that some detriment is more likely to be incurred.

Detection and protection are of the essence of survival from times past.

Is not cynicism but the downstream of lack of benefit if not also likelihood of harm?

Of mires of smoke, obfuscation and flanking ploys have ever been useful tactics.

Of decisions arising from a well of being informed, what of verity and quality?

The capability for perception is of survival. As with the word 'ethic', is not the word 'perception' but a canvas upon which to apply the hue of a value?

Is not leadership a 'venture' in decision-making, for without a following, it draws no tale.

Not for the faint-hearted, as the saying goes, attribution is a variable on the weigh to acclamation.

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