Room for improvement

The Prime Minister should never be satisfied with past glory or “just enough” effort.

Strong leadership is a hallmark of successful political figures. The role of a political leader is to guide citizens, make tough decisions for the good of their people, and strive for national prosperity.

All in all, our Prime Minister, Robert Abela, possesses qualities of a successful political leader. The overall result and the number of votes he managed to garner in the last general election sowed the first seeds that enabled him to embark on such a path to success. Of course, that is not enough. Indeed, he has a lot of room for improvement. Just as a leadership role continuously puts you in the limelight and offers more room for delegation, it also comes with bigger responsibilities — and risks.

One of the biggest pitfalls of being in a leadership position is that, if a team crashes or botches a project, everyone turns to the leader for answers and often blames him/her for the damage. Where did he/she go wrong? Was he/she even right for the job? And, if given the chance, what can he/she or his/her successors do differently?

As Robert Abela’s leadership role evolves, he also needs to change the way he leads. If he heads in a new direction or has new team members, he must adapt his leadership style to that new environment. If he makes the necessary changes to how he leads his team, aligning their day-to-day activities to our country’s new goals will be easier.

The key to mastering adaptability is to have an innovative mindset. Depending on the situation, this mindset could manifest in many ways, from being comfortable with ambiguity to staying curious, creative, and open to new ideas.

If Robert Abela believes a task can be performed better or faster, he must develop a strategy and identify team members to help implement it. He must not be so attached to a plan that he can’t let it go if it’s not working. He must be honest enough to admit when something needs to change and work with his team to chart a new path forward.

When a leader is satisfied with the overall current state of the country, he/she stops guiding people forward. He/she must share clear visions and goals to ensure everyone constantly delivers high-quality results for the nation. Robert has to set expectations, keep track of every minister’s progress, and hold them accountable.

If Abela wants to be the most effective leader possible, he should never be satisfied with past glory or “just enough” effort. Instead, he must plan meticulously for the future and prioritise teamwork. He tends to be less pro-active and too reactive. Of course, he must ensure his team gets all the answers and resources they need in the present, but without ignoring the future.

Proactive management is all about planning for the future so new developments don’t catch us unaware. It also involves anticipating challenges to minimise risks, exploring new opportunities, and looking for ways to reduce tension within the team of ministers before situations get a chance to escalate. At the same time, proactiveness shows up in a commitment to gaining team members’ trust, identifying and solving problems, and preparing for emergencies like revenue loss or major national project glitches.

Many leaders end up becoming arrogant in a bid to show confidence and ambition. Instead, the opposite is conveyed. To prevent arrogance from getting the best of them, Robert Abela needs to understand that humility and ambition are not mutually exclusive — so they can take on a unique blend of both. Indeed, humility in the service of ambition is the most effective and sustainable mindset for leaders who aspire to do big things in a world filled with huge unknowns.

Leaders have to play politics all the time. They must do the right thing at the right time and strike the right alliances without angering too many people. But this tends to get in the way of capacity building or projecting a long-term vision, and makes leaders lose focus.

Robert Abela might still be considered a young and relatively new leader, but he always remains at risk of growing selfish. Many times, he has shown how he is capable of being energetic and enthusiastic, yet he must beware of becoming power-hungry and seeking more control instead of leading.

It’s very easy for him to try to please everyone and befriend political teammates and allies, but that’s not always effective. He must take a step back and look at the weaknesses of his team membes and talk to them about how they can improve. If all he does, as he is wont to do, is compliment everyone, he is doing them a disservice. At the same time, he should accept criticism from them. Some of his leadership tactics might not be the best for the group. It’s his call to create an environment where his colleagues can give him feedback without fearing that it will backfire on them.

And if Robert Abela is the one who’s on the receiving end of criticism, as he frequently is – rightly or not – he must accept it with grace. He must not see himself as a victim or react hastily to avoid the feeling of inadequacy that comes with getting negative feedback. He should review the criticism, own his mistakes, and respond respectfully and thoughtfully. That way, he can assess the situation and plan for better outcomes next time.

Last but not least, Robert Abela must learn how to know himself, control himself, and communicate his core values, expectations, and beliefs. He needs to understand his strengths, weaknesses, and goals to give his best self to his Cabinet, his party and his country, and find fulfilment.

This is my open and utterly honest analysis of my Prime Minister. Many of you out there will surely not agree with most of what I have opined here. It’s your right, but I am sure that Robert Abela himself and his close advisers will take heed. At least, I hope so.

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