Can Public Personalities be good political leaders?

All that glitters is not gold is an old saying. Hungry for true political leaders in a long long time we Nepalis tend to pin our hopes on any and every well-meaning citizen that shows even a tiny bit of a spark to take up the reins.

Similar infatuations albeit towards political figures led us to getting half-baked leaders in the past (including the current Prime Minister) who brought us nothing but more misery and disappointments. Bitten by politicians, we have now begun to look beyond their failed pedigree. We need to be careful though.

Running a company, a non-profit organization, hosting a talk show, acting in movies, appearing in commercials, writing a book, giving public speeches, holding a Ph. D. degree all require mastery over many a skills. Yet these occupations are much less trickier than running even a small township in a democracy. All of these professionals can well be capable of running a public office, but their success in current occupation does not necessarily make them the right choice for a public role. A square peg may be perfect in itself, yet it does not fit into a round hole.

Running a country is a different ball game altogether that requires a combination of leadership and management skills, knowledge of the country, courage, political acumen, international image, heart to do public good, emotional quotient (EQ) and many other skills of a much superior league.

The humongous failure (following equally meteoric rise) of much of the dozens of Prime Ministers we have/had in recent times to live up to our expectations is/was rooted in them turning out to be lower in skills than even the regular professionals. The competency gap was just too big for them to fill through oratory and theatrics. They all appear/appeared nervous and challenged while in the hot-seat, but cool and composed while out of it.

As much as we want our right leaders to appear on the horizon soon, we must not lose our sanity by taking every spark we see momentarily as advent of a star. As they say, insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, but expecting different results.

Enthusiasm is alright. Insanity is not.

-Guest Post by Prashaant Singh