Promoting Accommodative Leadership

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The democratic elections held during the previous months in Nepal had been anticipated to deliver political stability and policy certainty in the country. However, contrary to expectations, the country seems to be twirling around intriguing political scenario and dilemma.

The sorry state of affairs in the politics has been due to the power centric tendencies and approach of the political leadership. The brazen competitive approach and adversarial behaviour of the political leadership lies at the core of the matter.

Their lust for grabbing power by hook or by crook is manifested into forging alliances of one’s own conveniences, trading of accusation and demonstration of intolerant and mutually incompatible attitudes.

This offers an example of cutthroat competitive tendencies inherent in political leadership dead bent to outwit rivals for the sake of one’s own power centric interests. Political leadership appears thus not very much cognizant of larger implications and adverse consequences their actions will have to prejudice the broader interests of the nations.

Competitive temperament

Political leaders imbued with competitive temperament and behaviours are always predisposed to confrontation, deceptive and deceitful manoeuvring to extract maximum mileage for their own selfish ends. In the present context characterised by political volatility, Nepal needs accommodative type leaders who tend to show their interest and commitment for broader national interest though consensus building.

The accommodative style shall definitely not allow deceitful motives to jeopardise the unity, continuity and flow of politics. The key difference between competitive and accommodative styles of leaders is that a competitive style leadership wants to win and fulfil one’s own interests at any cost, whilst the accommodative type leader is prepared to respect the rivals' interests for securing harmony, unity and relationships.

Accommodation is a word which is used to denote the self-sacrifice, generosity and yielding to another point of view even if it clashes with one’s own personal interests and motives. Accommodation of diversity and respect to the interests and needs of others is necessary at the wider political, social and cultural canvas.

Accommodation and tolerance of differences at the intra- and inter-party level is needed. It entails constructive handling of dissensions and conflicts in a manner that not only stitches the ruptures but also results into securing the win-win settlement of the contentious issues.

Accommodative type leadership is needed to bring various dimensions of social and cultural interests into a harmonious relationship. This is more important at the federal democratic context of Nepal where diverse political, territorial and cultural interests seek to prevail to advance their own causes and interests. In fact, federal democratic institutions are yet to be fully institutionalised, made resilient and capable to deliver to address the democratic aspirations of the people. 

Provinces are operating on a shaky foundation and their rational is questioned in some political quarters. Moreover, democratic practices are yet to be made institutionally operative and functional through civic participation and engagement. 

Whether we will live together in harmony and peace in a democratic and tolerant society respecting each other with due accommodation and collaboration or drive ourselves into conflict and animosities fuelled by personal biases or prejudices is totally dependent on the type of leadership we provide to the nation.

Moreover, in case the country witnesses further deepening and intensifying of intraparty and interparty conflicts for serving the crass myopic interests of competing political leaders, it will bring destructive consequences and results. Moreover, the unresolved cases of transitional justice are feared to escalate divisions and conflicts in the country.  

It is in this context that accommodative leadership with holistic foresight and clear strategy at local, provincial and federal level is needed in the country. Such a positive and accommodative posturing can have the courage to cross the political walls and boundaries and take lead in stitching broader political and social differences for the larger good of the nation. Accommodative leaders create shared vision, consult and seek support transcending political and social boundaries.

They do not impose their ideas, strategies and solution of the problems but solicit opinions and attempt to forge consensus to find settlement of the issues. Moreover, they bring together people from different strands and make them agree on a collaborative setting. 

Integral vision 

The most important focus of accommodative leadership is to help create an environment for working together in building trust and legitimacy. Finally, it is said that the function of accommodative leader is connective, not divisive. In fact, the need of hour is positive and accommodative leadership at local, provincial and federal levels. The positive leadership having an integral vision can prevent the society from getting polarised and divided.

Such a leadership sews the diverse factions of the party, other partisan-oriented differences and diverse societal interests into a fine fabric of a democratic society where everyone can live together in harmony with dignity and respect. Integrative and accommodative leaders emerge out of positive outlook, temperament and practice, therefore, commit themselves to seeing as much of the larger picture as possible. 

However, as mentioned above leaders in our country today appear to be demagogues and parochial. They stick to their oft repeated position grounded on the assertion of their narrow political and factional interests. Positive leaders should seek to build partnerships and alliances to integrate the society and forge common destiny of the people.

Leaders in our federal polity should not do anything that consequently leads to tear the larger unity of the own party and the nation even though such moves can serve their short term interests. The hard-won peace and federal democratic dispensation secured following the ten-year-long armed insurgency should not be allowed to derail personal animosity and vindictiveness.

(The author is presently associated with Policy Research Institute (PRI) as a senior research fellow.  rijalmukti@gmail.com)

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