Lead­er­ship during a cri­sis

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - OPINION -

As Ja­maica and the rest of the world cur­rently grap­ple with the fall­out from the novel coro­n­avirus pan­demic, strong lead­er­ship is re­quired con­sis­tently from all crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers in Gov­ern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor, and par­tic­u­larly among health and med­i­cal per­son­nel. Lead­er­ship during a cri­sis poses an ex­cep­tional chal­lenge and re­quires even more ef­fort than the norm. While this lat­est episode is health-re­lated, more than two decades prior, Ja­maica had to deal with a se­vere fi­nan­cial melt­down during which very few en­ti­ties were spared. One such was in­sur­ance gi­ant, Life of Ja­maica, to­day known as sagi­cor, with R Danny Wil­liams as founder and di­rec­tor emer­i­tus.

R Danny Wil­liams is a pioneer in his field, as he iden­ti­fied a need for the pro­vi­sion of life in­sur­ance lo­cally since it was a busi­ness en­tirely dom­i­nated by for­eign in­ter­ests prior to his in­ter­ven­tion. He is self-taught in his pro­fes­sion, hav­ing worked his way right to the top out of high school, and be­com­ing a man­ager at the age of only 26, de­spite never at­tend­ing univer­sity due to fi­nan­cial con­straints.

Wil­liams was a ma­jor player re­spon­si­ble for trans­form­ing not only the life in­sur­ance in­dus­try but the wider bank­ing and fi­nan­cial services sec­tor in Ja­maica by en­cour­ag­ing

The world and ev­ery­thing in it has un­der­gone a rad­i­cal change. We must never be afraid to change with it, but that change must be for the bet­ter of hu­man­ity.

Trial by jury is an aged con­cept that en­sures that one’s peers, that is or­di­nary peo­ple, are ac­count­able to each other for de­ci­sions made in a trial, rather than to a judge (who is paid by the Gov­ern­ment).

A jury’s role is to pro­vide un­bi­ased views to ev­i­dence pre­sented in a case. To do so, ju­rors rely on vary­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and com­mon sense, and by do­ing so give im­par­tial views. Jury ser­vice is one of the pil­lars of fair­ness in a trial.

The com­mon law sys­tem of ju­rispru­dence on which our le­gal sys­tem was built has one of the most time-hon­oured prac­tices — the right to trial by jury. Our con­sti­tu­tion ac­cepts all com­mon law prin­ci­ples, in­clud­ing the right to trial by one’s peers.

In Ja­maica most of our more Ja­maican-owned busi­nesses to en­ter the play­ing field. His proven man­age­rial ca­pac­ity is ex­em­pli­fied in times of cri­sis as, during the 1990s, when other busi­nesses in Ja­maica were fold­ing due to mis­man­age­ment and ex­ces­sive risk-tak­ing, he nav­i­gated dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods with a steady hand. He notes that the com­pany strived to adopt all mod­ern meth­ods to weather the storm and that they were never care­less af­ter nearly be­com­ing bank­rupt.

In a sit-down in­ter­view done for a doc­tor of trans­for­ma­tional lead­er­ship, Wil­liams re­vealed that his ap­proach to trans­for­ma­tional lead­er­ship in­volves con­vinc­ing oth­ers of the value of what you’re do­ing, es­pe­cially judges are ap­pointed to the bench from the pros­e­cu­to­rial arm of our le­gal sys­tem. It would be naive of us of to think that prose­cu­tors and de­fence at­tor­neys are de­void of bi­ased views, even though both sides strive for jus­tice.

It has al­ways been my view that if one’s ca­reer path is to be a judge then one should be ex­posed to both sides of the crim­i­nal bar; ie pros­e­cu­tion and de­fence. There are ex­cep­tions to the rule how­ever, as some peo­ple have a nat­u­ral and in­her­ent ten­dency to be bal­anced, ob­jec­tive, and fair, and they make the best judges; and we know who they are.

For me, jury tri­als are one of the pil­lars of democ­racy. We live in a demo­cratic coun­try in which civilised so­ci­eties are built, and democ­racy is one of the prin­ci­ples I hold dearly to. It is im­por­tant that ev­ery in­di­vid­ual is con­fi­dent that at his/her trial those in over­com­ing ob­sta­cles. Re­gard­ing the fi­nan­cial sec­tor cri­sis of the 90s, Wil­liams noted that his com­pany re­mained steady be­cause it got cap­i­tal; Gov­ern­ment saw the value of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and was will­ing to ex­tend its fi­nan­cial re­sources to help, which it even­tu­ally did.

Truly, Wil­liams en­cap­su­lates the essence of en­trepreneur­ship in his lead­er­ship style, and what is par­tic­u­larly strik­ing about his ap­proach to lead­er­ship is that even though he oc­cu­pies an in­dus­try in which risk-tak­ing is en­cour­aged in or­der to gen­er­ate sub­stan­tial re­turns, he demon­strates a high level of pru­dence and re­spon­si­bil­ity, es­pe­cially with other peo­ple’s re­sources. In this in­stance, he can be said to be an ex­cel­lent stew­ard.

As an ex­am­ple of this, Wil­liams noted an in­stance in which he had to pull

to­gether his staff to re­duce sales of in­sur­ance as they were in excess, which could lead to a pos­si­ble col­lapse of the busi­ness. In do­ing so, he was able to con­vince the staff of the util­ity of this ex­er­cise, even though it in­volved a salary cut and no hir­ing of new em­ploy­ees. His course of ac­tion saved the busi­ness in the end.

Wil­liams’ abil­ity to demon­strate a high de­gree of level-head­ed­ness when ma­noeu­vring rough pe­ri­ods, which is es­sen­tially the hall­mark of an ex­cep­tional leader, has made his com­pany the premier in­sti­tu­tion and point of ref­er­ence for the life in­sur­ance in­dus­try in Ja­maica, as well as through­out the re­gion and, if his vi­sion for the or­gan­i­sa­tion should come to fruition, the world.

Tak­ing this seriously, we should strive to max­imise the value we cre­ate and also build an at­mos­phere in which our team mem­bers feel un­en­cum­bered in ex­press­ing their views for the bet­ter­ment of the busi­ness. Ul­ti­mately, th­ese are the ap­proaches used by Wil­liams during times of chal­lenge, which en­gen­dered a greater sense of unity and trust and al­lowed them to tackle any chal­lenge head-on. who de­lib­er­ate over guilt or in­no­cence are im­par­tial, un­bi­ased, and are made up of in­di­vid­u­als from a wide cross sec­tion of so­ci­ety. That is why it is trial by one’s peers and not an in­di­vid­ual limited in ex­pe­ri­ence and from a par­tic­u­lar so­cial group, de­void of ex­po­sure to the wider so­ci­ety.

Ev­ery ac­cused who stands be­fore a court must feel that he/she has been fairly treated. It is said that there can be no peace with­out jus­tice. Jus­tice and fair­ness go hand in hand. Each ju­ror who sits on a case con­sid­ers the stan­dard at which he/she wants so­ci­ety to op­er­ate. It is a civic par­tic­i­pa­tion that builds so­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion and the so­cial stan­dards by which we live, and is vi­tal to hu­man and so­cial de­vel­op­ment. To re­move it would be to do a great dis­ser­vice to our na­tion. We should be build­ing so­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion as a young na­tion, not seek­ing to limit it.

Democ­racy, there­fore, has a great po­lit­i­cal im­pact on so­ci­ety, and ju­rors are a part of that demo­cratic process. A jury sys­tem im­proves the qual­ity of jus­tice, so­cial be­hav­iour, and so­cial norms, as ju­rors are re­quired to put them­selves in po­si­tions of re­spon­si­bil­ity, to ex­er­cise fair­ness and im­par­tial­ity, and to make de­ci­sions re­gard­less of bi­ased and per­sonal feel­ings. That is how so­ci­eties are built.

In the present novel coro­n­avirus pan­demic, I know that it would seem pru­dent to have tri­als by a judge alone. But we must as­sess whether we are throw­ing away the baby with the bath wa­ter. The only other civil pride I know in a democ­racy is the right to vote. We have not made civic pride a pri­or­ity in Ja­maica and we are now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a de­cline in the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of our demo­cratic right to vote. Be care­ful about the changes you feel are prag­matic.

TO­DAY’S HIGH­LIGHT 2009: In a vote of high drama, the bustling Brazil­ian car­ni­val city of Rio de Janeiro gets the 2016 Olympics, a first for South Amer­ica.


1187: Be­sieged Cru­sader forces in Jerusalem ca­pit­u­late to Mus­lim com­man­der Sal­adin. The Chris­tians re­take the holy city in 1229.

1518: Car­di­nal Wolsey de­vises the “Peace of London” among Eng­land, France, Em­peror Max­i­m­il­ian I, Spain and the Pa­pacy.

1780: Bri­tish spy John An­dre is hanged in Tap­pan, New York.

1804: Eng­land’s pop­u­lace is mo­bilised to re­sist pos­si­ble in­va­sion by France.

1823: Spain’s King Fer­di­nand VII, re­stored by France which also crushed a Span­ish re­bel­lion, issues de­cree for ex­e­cu­tion of his en­e­mies.

1835: The first bat­tle of the Texas Rev­o­lu­tion takes place as

Amer­i­can set­tlers de­feat Mex­i­can cav­alry near the Guadalupe River.

1836: Charles Dar­win re­turns to Eng­land from a trip to South Amer­ica, where he doc­u­mented an­i­mal and plant life for his book, On the Ori­gin of Species.

1870: Rome be­comes the cap­i­tal of Italy.

1889: First Pan Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence is held in Washington.

1918: King Faisal I en­ters Da­m­as­cus to set up an in­de­pen­dent Arab State.

1919: US Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son suf­fers a stroke, leav­ing him par­tially paral­ysed.

1924: League of Na­tions adopts Geneva Pro­to­col for peace­ful set­tle­ment of in­ter­na­tional dis­putes.

1934: Royal In­dian Navy is formed.

Trial by jury is se­cured in the law of Ja­maica

R Danny Wil­liams

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