Sunday, 30 September 2007

Leader-centric networks, are they sustainable?



Most of the grassroots telecentre networks are leadership driven, according to my observations. In Sri Lanka, most of the successful Nanasala are driven by charismatic leaders. In India, Bangladesh and Chile, I have observed the same character though conditioned by the socio-economic and cultural characteristics of the country. Originally, I thought it was my Sri Lankan (Sarvodaya-ness) culturally bound mind-frame created this insight. Yet, Maule Activa of Chile convinced me this character is common across the world.

What does that mean by Leadership driven / leader-centric-ness?

Leader has a vision and ambition. Vision builds the path, adjusting to the changing socio-economic and techno-cultural landscape. Ambition fuels the mission generating human and capital resources to translate that vision into action. Thus the telecentres / networks continue to survive.

These leaders maintain their circle of attention on;
> Maintaining a circle of influence with their target group (eg Community, Telecenter operators)
> Maintain visibility within their landscape
> Adapt strategic changes frequently (within Human & Financial resource base)
> Always in search for emerging opportunities

Still I could not find a logical reason to say they are not sustainable, as most of them run beyond the initial capital infusion (donor supported or slef-invested). But most of them do not demonstrate skills of articulating their success stories in the standard terms; balance books with consistent revenue, translating in-kind resources into economic terms, consistently generating convincing success stories in place of inspiring highlights.

Another quite common character to most of such leaders is, they fail to provide substantial revenue and welfare packages to their subordinates. That itself deprives their ability to infuse professional staff members, instead end up with constant struggle of keeping with, mostly, low quality staff.

But, as per the Peter Drucker, these leaders manage to get the best out of most human resources.

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