Leadership during a crisis
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