Sport and Education Serving as the Tipping Point for Real Change

It came as no surprise to that the call by Prime Minister Dr Rowley for citizens to see themselves among the best in the world coupled with advice to parents to actively get involved in shaping their children’s  future, was quickly followed by the ubiquitous  former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith who announced his take-over of the All Out Sports Bar opposite the Queen’s Park Oval.

Having declared his ambition to replace Rowley as Prime Minister, Griffith’s strategy to keep mashing on the heels of key moves and utterances by the PM has now become evident, as if seeking to remind the forgetful population both of his presence and his super ambition.

In a telephone interview with Anna Ramdass of the Trinidad Express, Griffith said his new business venture “will not occupy all his time, and he intends to continue service to Trinidad and Tobago through his political party, the National Transformation Alliance (NTA). Plus, he has applied again for the position of Police Commissioner.

He said “owning a sports bar came natural to him as it is a combination of two things at play: his love for sports and his people-oriented personality.

 “There was a void in Trinidad and Tobago for a proper sports bar. People are not aware of All Out, it is not a private club even though it is in the Queen’s Park Oval, but it is the only place in Port of Spain and the West where you can actually park and be in the same compound where the club and bar is,” he said.

In his Republic Day Message, PM Rowley reminded citizens that, “in spite of TT’s own socio-economic political challenges, its citizens hold to their unique spirit and idyllically celebrate the joys of just being alive”

Rowley referred to TT as a country populated by “exceptional people” in a “global ball of chaos and confusion.”

He said TT “can point to its many social ills, the current crime wave, the short-comings in our infrastructure, the buckling and impeded education system, our institutions, our faltering work ethic, disregard, in some places, of the environment, et cetera  

“But on the other side of the national balance sheet, we must give ourselves positive grades as being a people, with a confident pride in ourselves”.

The PM  appealed to parents and children to utilise services offered by the new Ministry of Youth Development and National Service and other state agencies and to search for one’s calling in life “from very early.”

He advised: “Look out for those areas, the signs, subjects, specific activities, which may catch their attention.

“Let them know that their individual life’s calling is all within them; help them discover their purposeful energy, and follow its potential to a better life.

The calls by both political protagonists are proving to be of great value at a time when Sweet T+T is coming into her own as a key player on the international landscape – especially in the areas of energy, trade, culture and sport.

Rowley was therefore  on track when he told this small but wealthy nation in an address on 

the economy briefly ahead of Monday’s (September 26) 2023 budget presentation:

 “I do wish to remind you that on my return from my recent visit to Europe in which I met the major energy players in our country, I emphasised some truths about our continued dependence on our oil, gas and the energy sector, with the hope that citizens, when they demand wage and salary increases, will understand clearly that this country is only a small vulnerable unit, in a large, volatile international market.”

Rowley sought to remind citizens of the “now pervasive dangers of misinformation and disinformation, and the forces, within our nation, who deliberately and calculatedly set about on social media to put their destructive spin on every bit of information in the public space – all to their hopeful advantage.”

He emphasized that “We, the nationals of this country, confidently believe that we are as good as the world’s best – and in many spheres, we have proven that we are.”

Griffith saw Sport as “a powerful avenue”

He reminded citizens that “I had said on the political platform, if and when we get into government, we intend to make sport a major ministry. Sports can transform minds, it does so much to change young people away from a life of crime,” 

Griffith said that “through sport, one learns leadership, punctuality, dedication to duty, teamwork, tactics and perseverance”.

No that these two men of the people are directly on point on what’s best to hold the nation together, their common problem would be that of Communication. 

In other words: How do you get across these leader’s message of confidence and optimism  to a people who keep refusing to recognize their own beauty, resources and talents, and are riddled with  

  •  Repressed high self-esteem;
  • Appreciation of one’s many assets; and
  • Forgetting that rate among the world’s best in many areas?

In this connection, we must admit that while our leaders have always been long on sending out messages, thy have been very shot on connecting.

An article in

Center for Creative Leadership

On Why Communication Is So Important for Leaders argues that:

“Describing effective communication as a 2-way street is passé. Communication for leaders is much more complicated, and leaders at all levels need to know a whole lot more than the mechanics of sending and receiving information. Harnessing the ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills a leader can have”.

Here are some important things they say leaders must remember about communication for leadership:

  1. . Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. As a leader, you need to be a skilled communicator in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale in order to achieve results through others.

You need to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information with a multitude of audiences. You must learn to handle the rapid flows of information within the organization, and among customers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders and influencers.

  1. Leaders must be purposeful and intentional about effective communication. You must know how and when to communicate, and select the appropriate mode for your audience. In fact, there are 4 types of communication contexts, including writing, conversing, presenting, and facilitating — and leaders must excel in all of them. It’s the only way to meet people’s individual needs and enable important human connections.
  1. . Authenticity counts — a lot.

Be honest and sincere. Find your own voice; quit using corporate-speak or sounding like someone you’re not. Let who you are, where you come from, and what you value come through in your communication. People want, respect, and will follow authentic leadership. So forget about eloquence — worry about being real. Don’t disguise who you are. People will never willingly follow someone they feel is inauthentic.

  1. Visibility is a form of communication. If you want to communicate well, don’t be out of sight. Don’t be known only by your emails and official missives. Be present, visible, and available. Getting “out there” — consistently and predictably — lets others know what kind of leader you are. 

People need to see and feel who you are to feel connected to the work you want them to do. Find ways to interact with all of your stakeholder groups, even (and especially!) if communicating in a crisis.

  1.  Listening is a powerful skill. Good communicators are also good listeners. When you listen well, you gain a clear understanding of another’s perspective and knowledge. Listening fosters trust, respect, openness, and alignment. Active listening is a key part of coaching others.

 Allow people to air their concerns. Ask powerful questions that open the door to what people really think and feel. And pay close, respectful attention to what is said — and what’s left unsaid.

  1. Bonus Fact: Contributing is just as important as receiving. 

When a leader focuses on their contribution to the conversation, not just receiving their team’s deliverables, they learn more and help the team get closer to accomplishing shared goals. 

A skilled leader and effective communicator is not only good at transferring their own ideas, but also excels in aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading vision

Sometimes focusing on the “leave-behinds” is just as crucial as focusing on the “take-aways.”

The extent to which Trinidad and Tobago leaders adhere to these guidelines – assuming there is agreement among experts  on their validity – will determine how much progress our leaders have been making in this regard.

In the very process of identifying the need for parents to get actively involved in their children’s destiny – and by his active, globe-trotting work with Energy Minister Stuart Young plus the yeoman service done to promote ourselves abroad – PM Rowley, like Gary Griffith with his latest All Out venture, seem to getting somewhere.

That’s why we can hold out hope of soon arriving at  that game-changing  tipping point where the messenger will finally get the message across to a people who are sometimes hard-of-hearing but – in the same way a steel band beat can invade the very  marrow of your bones on a J’Ouvert Morning – once the message is inside, its sure to will remain alive and well for aeons to come.

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