Did you know that the future of Bhutan is always better than that of the past? Did you also know that it is because each successive King is always better than His father? And, most importantly, did you know that it is because each successive King made His son always better than Himself?
True leadership is made, not born. In Bhutan, a Prince is born but a King is always made. This is the story of Bhutan’s true leadership. This is why we the people of Bhutan are always proud of Our Kings.
When Our Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck was born, His Majesty the King said: “He is not just Jetsun and my son, but a son to all the Bhutanese people.” This is because Our Gyalsey must be prepared for the duty to “serve” all the Bhutanese people from the day one. We must understand that Our Gyalsey does not have the freedom and luxury of time like other Bhutanese babies do.
Named Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, meaning fearless, victorious, and powerful, His Majesty the King said that Our Gyalsey “must live such a life as a good human being and serve his country in a manner that it will be exemplary.” Humility is the hallmark of Bhutan’s leadership.
His Majesty’s prayer: Our people must have the future better “than they have in the past.” This is a unique prayer of each of successive King. This is the heart of Bhutan’s King, and this is the jewel of Bhutan’s true leadership.
I’ve written an article before and described His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan as “A King with Uncommon Sense.” And I said that His Majesty the Fourth King has given many special gifts to the people of Bhutan such as bravely risking life and personally fighting terrorism in the frontline in 2003 to defend the freedom and future of Bhutanese people, introducing democracy in 2008 to strengthen the freedom and future of Bhutanese people, making Bhutan environmental champion of the Earth to give beacon of hope to humanity, or the vision of Gross National Happiness yet the Fourth King’s biggest gift to the people of Bhutan is “His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk.”
A Prince is born, but a King is made. People affectionately call Our King as “People’s King.” But I would call HM as “Servant King” because I believe the Fourth King has made HM to be “Servant-Leader” because every action of HM embodies an act of what MIT Professor Greenleaf calls “Servant Leadership.” The greatness of the Fourth King is truly reflected in the humility of His Majesty the King.
“The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” -Robert K. Greenleaf
Similarly, a Prince is born, but a King is made. His Majesty the King has said: “I now have an added responsibility– to raise my son in the manner that I was brought up by my Father. I must ensure that when his time comes, my son is able to serve his people and country in an exceptional and exemplary manner. My endeavor will be to impart all that I know to him. While I will be his teacher today, my prayer is that one day, I will be the one who learns from him.” Yes, Bhutan’s history shows that each successive King always made His son better than Himself in serving the people of Bhutan.
During the reign of His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the people of Bhutan will have many moments of joy and tears of happiness yet, when the time comes, His Majesty’s biggest gift to the people of Bhutan would be His Majesty Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.
Opinion by Nima Tshering
The writer is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Policy under the Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship Program at the University of Melbourne, Australia.