Workshop on Leadership Development Concludes

By Yankuba Jallow

Workshop for Leadership Development for Middle Level Managers in the Public Sector, concludes at the Management Development Institute on Saturday July 29 2017.

The theme for the workshop dwelt on how to build vibrant public sector in The Gambia. The workshop was organised by ‘2016 Mandela Washington Fellow’ and Global Human Resource Development Initiative.

The workshop was designed to give participants the opportunity to brush up on some leadership fundamentals, share experiences, best practices, and problem solving techniques with a view to discuss the best way forward in managing their respective organisations for socio-economic development of the Gambia.

Leadership is a critical element in achieving organisational goals and helps institutions and organisations to achieve their visions. Good leadership qualities help institutions, organisations and nations to attain betterment.

The public service culture in modern times requires values of fair play, efficiency and accountability and without this mindset and commitment to professional standards, resource management, resource mobilisation and social interventions, reforms and development cannot be effectively executed for efficient service delivery. The reasons for public service reform have been heard repeatedly and it faces dual pressures which are economic challenges and demand from citizens with ever-high expectations.

The language around public service transformation leans towards upbeat and positive terms about citizen’s engagement, motivation and capacity building for the next generation of public servants. It appeals to the notion of innovation in practice and sustainability within the global context, as objectives of public service transformation. However, one must consider where this leaves individuals when they are asked to contribute ideas and participate in the implementation and evaluation of change practices in the face challenges.

The management of uncertainty must therefore, be part and parcel of innovative practice in transformation. Public service managers are engaged in processes that demand change in organisational culture and underpinned by leadership and management development as well as shifts in core values in the workplace. Using a broad range of means to achieve change, management must try to align new ways of delivering services and simultaneously instill trust in a difficult environment.

During the workshop sessions, ideas were shared on best practices and open discussions on the way forward conducted in order to improve economic and financial governance, improve leadership skills and communicating better for the socio-economic development of our nation.

Optimum performance is hardly achieved with under trained, under motivated and undisciplined officials; rather, it can be achieved by well trained, disciplined, highly qualified and motivated corps of officers. Developing civil servants and equipping the middle level managers with the requisite knowledge, proper skills and right attitudes to enhance their performance and boost their productivity, should always be a priority.

Ms. Awa Sillah, on her opening remarks said the success and attainment of these goals depend to a large extent on the performance of the public sector. She added that the country’s public institutions must therefore undergo reforms, which will transform them into sectors which will enable the government to deliver. She also said the leaders of most institutions in the Gambia are expected to transform and manage change in order to bring about more efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services. She said one of the role of the ‘Mandela Fellows and Global Human Resource,’ is to contribute to the public sector reform, and ensuring to give back to train and equip human resource staff with the requisite skills and knowledge to be become more effective in the performance of their duties.

Baboucar Saine, started first by quoting former USA President, Obama, who said ‘Africa does not need strong men but rather needs strong institutions.’

“There is no way for the Gambia to attain her aspirations if public institutions are poorly managed” he said.

He said building vibrant public institutions, is very vital in transforming the country. He said there are some countries that have less or no natural resources but are at an advanced stage than the Gambia and gave Singapore as an example. He argued that the oil resource of the country cannot transform the country without good institutions managed by people with good attitudes; that this is the first means of transforming the country before natural resources. He cited many African countries such as Bostwana and Nigeria that have many natural resources, but did not still attain their aspirations.

He said Rwanda after the genocide 1994, was transformed to be one of the strongest economies in Africa leaving 52 -year old Gambia still struggling with her aspirations. He cited some public institutions such as Nawec, Gamtel and GRA that are faced with serious challenges to meet up to their goals.

“The problem with the public institutions, is lack of leadership,” he said.

He said public institutions have vision and mission statements just to blandish people and to acclaim positions in order to gain public trust, whilst they do not have strategic plans to meet up to those vision and mission statements.

“Until and unless we appoint the right people at those places, the Gambia will never be competitive,” he said.

He said the private sector is doing greater than the public sector because they appoint the right people at the right place, based on qualification.

Momodou Drammeh, Director of Enterprise Support of GIEPA, made similar remarks and called for behavioral change.