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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of assessment organisation, Extended DISC Caribbean, Trevor Smith, has argued that Jamaica’s pursuit of global competitiveness must be accompanied by structured culture change initiatives, which include behaviour-based re-training of leadership and supervisory personnel.
“Globally, more attention is being paid to the ‘people’ component of competitiveness, as increasingly companies and countries are realising that if you are going to sustain competitiveness, you have to focus on the people, as over time, competiveness is driven essentially by the talent,” he said.
Mr. Smith was speaking yesterday (August 27), at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, hosted at the agency’s headquarters in Kingston.
“Formal strategies, to align style preferences to the task environment at the individual, team and organisational levels are essential for success. Getting the right people in the right positions is fundamental to making major strategic breakthroughs,” he said.
Extended DISC Caribbean is currently carrying out its National Leadership Culture Survey, a comparative study that will identify, assess and compare Jamaica’s leadership culture with those of the world’s most competitive nations, as judged by the Global Competitiveness Report.
“What we want to look at, is the leadership culture in Jamaica as compared to other areas of the world and see if we can gain insights into strategies and best practices that Jamaica can implement to enhance its productivity and competiveness. As a nation, we need to examine the leadership approaches that dominate us as a country and whether or not they are suited to our challenges,” he explained.
In the meantime, Mr. Smith said that indications are that Jamaican leaders behave differently from those of the developed and more competitive nations.
“We seem to be more task and compliance driven, while they are more initiative and innovation driven,” he noted, adding that one of the reasons for this difference could be the country’s history of slavery.
“Our leadership is heavily linked to our cultural heritage where during the slavery/plantation era ‘Management’ was essentially about securing and maintaining assets, record keeping and reporting. The store-keeping philosophy of ‘Management’ then carried over into the local operations of government. The empowerment of people, strategic planning, innovation, risk taking, people skills and ‘winning’ were not essential for success,” he opined.
This legacy, he said, continues to impede Jamaica’s drive to be a globally competitive nation and as such, it behoves the country to identify and address the underlying reasons for its lack of competitiveness.
Mr. Smith emphasised that the National Leadership Culture Survey is critical to this process and is encouraging leaders at all levels and from all sectors to participate in the survey.
The survey, which is administered on-line, can be accessed at www.myedos.com . The access code is RES-jamaica2009.
The National Leadership Culture Survey/Study will look at the Leadership Profile in Jamaica; Leadership Culture by age, gender, industry, area of responsibility and organisation size; National Stress in Jamaica; Leadership Culture vs. Jamaican Population and Jamaica in the future – Young Generation.
When the project is completed, the findings will be made available to the Jamaican public for discussion and analysis.
Jamaica was ranked 86th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2008/09.

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