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Will there be emergence of effective leadership in Nepal?

Will there be emergence of effective leadership in Nepal?

An increasing number of Nepal’s youth population are flying abroad in search of jobs. 

This migration trend is not just limited to the unskilled and illiterate folk; it extends to the semi-skilled and even the skilled workforce. What's more, the exodus has witnessed skilled professionals from lucrative job markets like banking, insurance, healthcare, IT, and various corporate sectors bidding farewell to their homeland in pursuit of a brighter future. Furthermore, we have seen prominent sports personalities, from football to cricket, taking their talents overseas for the promise of better prospects.

According to the National Population and Housing Census 2021, Nepal boasts a youthful population, with 61.96 percent falling between the ages of 15-59 years. Yet, if the ongoing youth migration trend continues, encompassing the unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled individuals, Nepal's demographic structure is at risk of a significant and adverse transformation. The consequences are already felt. In rural parts of Nepal, be it in the mountains or the Tarai plains, finding labor for farming has become a daunting task. Simultaneously, white-collar jobs are plagued by a scarcity of suitable candidates, a challenge that becomes even more pronounced as one moves away from the bustling heart of Kathmandu to other corners of the nation.

This somber scenario suggests that a nation blessed with over 80,000 Megawatts of electricity production potential, and adorned with eight of the world's 14 highest peaks, along with sacred sites like Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, and Janakpurdham, the birthplace of Mata Sita, is at risk of failing in the due course of time. 

This critical situation demands concerted and positive efforts from leadership, both within the government and the private sector. Otherwise, Nepal may soon find itself predominantly inhabited by an aging, retired population.

As we ponder this bleak situation, it's vital to understand how a country begins to falter. Just as a person has multiple dimensions, a nation too possesses several bodies, including its physical presence, demographics, culture, economy, innovation, and historical legacy. The process of failure or disintegration is not abrupt; it's a gradual disintegration that takes time. However, alongside disintegration, development and integration also occur as a natural part of evolution.

Despite the challenges, it is imperative that we do not lose hope. In times of despair, the ray of hope must persist, particularly among those in leadership positions who possess awareness, an ethical mindset, and a desire to contribute to the greater good. Just as individuals form families, families make up societies, and societies together constitute a nation. The thought process of individuals and families plays a pivotal role in shaping the nation's trajectory. While complete coherence in thoughts and desires may be elusive, harmony amid diverse thoughts can be harnessed to propel a nation forward. Every individual, from their unique vantage point, holds the potential to contribute positively to strengthen their family, society, and nation.

To work for the greater good, whether in the social, economic, cultural, or innovation sector, three levels are essential: individual, institution, and government. Any endeavor, no matter how modest, can lead to achieving societal goals when approached with scalability, intent, focus, clarity, and unwavering determination. However, effective leadership is vital, and it is worth noting that our society often witnesses transactional leadership in which those in leadership positions rely on bureaucratic authority and legitimate power, or reward and punishment, to influence individual performance.

Instead of this transactional approach, our leaders should embrace a transformational perspective, motivating individuals by articulating a vision for the betterment of society as a whole. Such a transformational approach not only enhances the effectiveness of these efforts but also empowers followers to become leaders themselves. This approach aligns with John Calvin Maxwell's "The Five Levels of Leadership," which highlights leadership that goes beyond authority and hierarchy, inspiring loyalty and personal growth among followers.

Maxwell writes that the first level of leaders is those who are followed by the people because they must follow these leaders owing to their interests. Then comes the next level of leadership where people follow them because they want to follow them. The third level of leadership attracts the loyalty of the followers because these leaders have done something good for the institution or society. The fourth level of leaders are those who have not only contributed to the institution or society but have also empowered followers to become leaders themselves in their respective areas. The topmost i.e., the final level of leaders are those who are followed because of who they are and what they represent.

Nepal yearns for leaders who empower people to become successful leaders themselves, guiding the nation towards the next level of development and prosperity in a sustainable manner. Despite decades of longing for such transformational leaders, we must not lose faith in ourselves and our society, for real leaders can emerge at any given moment.

The author is Chief Executive Office of Muktinath Bikas Bank