Style Observer

THE OPTIMISTS - Mariame McIntosh Robinson

President & CEO First Global Bank

Sunday, November 11, 2018

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It seemed the right thing to do ahead of diving straight into the 'silly season', and in this time of incredible love and hate, confidence and fear, fake news and alternative truths, to hear shared voices of optimism. SO asked the question: What's your take on optimism?

We live in a world of unprecedented change where the actions of our forebears have created unparalleled opportunities for us versus in the past. Never has the world been so interconnected with information travelling at warp speed around the globe increasing persons' exposure and potential for learning. In addition, with the advent of this digital age and the 4th Industrial Revolution (the fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the real and digital worlds), there is the possibility to level the playing field across the world, to the benefit of developing countries such as ours. With this emerging reality comes a lot of hope.

Learning and earning: Digital skills can be learned by anyone living anywhere who can be hired globally. I see the potential for our youth to learn skills that allow them to make Jamaica more competitive whilst earning a decent living, working from anywhere.

Increased accountability and transparency: With most activities and transactions leaving a digital footprint which can be easily tracked and/or shared, it becomes easier to demand and expect increased levels of accountability and transparency. It is becoming increasingly difficult to 'hide things'.

More choice for consumers: The ability to research and choose the best options to consume and engage in, and to share experiences with the globe at minimal cost have forced companies to ensure they are delivering superior value to attract and retain consumers.

Better physical environment: There is a clearer sense of the interconnectedness that the human race has with our physical environment and each other regardless of one's location in time and space, and this has become more pronounced than decades ago. As such, we are seeing governments committing to increasing reliance on renewable energy technologies (GOJ has committed to increase renewable energy sources to >30% of Jamaica's energy consumption), as well as civil society doing their part to protect the environment (eg beach clean-ups are well-attended — this never happened decades ago!).

More open-mindness: as more stories are communicated of differing models of success, it makes it easier for persons to live their purpose-driven life in our own authentic way versus having to conform to one stereotypical model. Status quo can be challenged because examples of how to do things better are easily available with the click of a button.

We are in an exciting phase of the world. Soon we will be able to live longer due to increasing medical break-throughs using technology; we will be able to have experiences without travelling (virtual reality); we won't have to drive ourselves as vehicles will be fully autonomous freeing us up to rest or do other things; and so on. The key is for us as Jamaicans not to be left behind as the world evolves and shifts into this new era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. And with this, leadership demands and expectations will change.

Now more than ever leaders will have to transform themselves to lead in this new age. Whether pushed by millennials, global discontent, and/or more access to information, leaders in both the private sector and public spheres will have to transcend to being a conscious leader (open, curious, ethical, committed to learning) instead of an unconscious leader that uses the command and control style and is closed, defensive and committed to being right. And there will be more mechanisms and practices, including the increased access to information, to hold all of us who show up as leaders more accountable.

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