Bhutan in a few years time could face a leadership crisis as the current batch of political leadership retires either voluntarily or because of their age and Election Commission rules on office terms. Therefore it is important that leaders across parties groom competent younger leaders and allow them to take more responsibility.
Even the global trend among Multi National Corporations is of going for younger CEO’s and Managers. This is because younger CEO’s bring more mental and physical energy to the job, are more enthusiastic have a new and more efficient way of doing things, keep an open mind, are more tolerant and are perfect in understanding a large and young client base.
Young leaders are also important as like in the case of MNC’s they can infuse a country with fresh energy and vigor and take it out of its lethargy.
One of the tragedies of the SAARC region as a whole is the picture of old leaders well into their twilight years still clinging on to power with nothing to contribute but instead stopping any innovation and reform.
Bhutan is also vulnerable as there is a possibility of leaders holding on for too long in the future.
Older leaders as a thumb rule are highly cynical and remember too much of their bad experiences and the past to move beyond their suspicions, cynicism and misgivings. They are also generally less tolerant, more susceptible to corruption and unable to react adequately to emergencies.
The entire system suffers as a result. Old, conservative, hard and cynical leaders create a similar system and the nation has to bear the brunt of it.
The young though innocent at times are a fresh slate in which the new and hopeful future of the country can be written.
A common complaint internationally is that old leaders even in a new system ultimately ensure that the old ways of doing things are enforced. Old dogs cannot be taught new tricks and similarly older leaders more often than not are unable to adjust to the new system. This is not because they are evil or malicious but simply given their nature, warped world perspective and refusal to change.
For a country that has around 53% of the population below the age of 25, young leadership is not a choice but a necessity. Our democracy will be incomplete with a primarily a young population and not enough youth leaders.
The Rupee crisis is a signal that the old way of doing things and the old attitudes will not work but instead Bhutan needs dynamism, fresh ideas, smaller egos and a lot of energy, all of which can be brought in by young and competent leaders.
However, there are several barriers in Bhutan for young leadership like the perceptions that leadership is something that one “grows into” or earns and that young people are incapable of being leaders today. Older leaders are also unwilling to share their power, responsibility, and decision-making, and assign younger leaders to unimportant tasks rather than allowing them to determine what happens in key decisions.
A sterling example of encouraging young leadership is His Majesty the Fourth King who abdicated the throne for His Majesty the King. Though His Majesty the Fourth King under no definition can be called an old leader and could have gone on with great competency for years but instead he introduced a new and hopeful era under His Majesty the Fifth King.
Many in Bhutan’s leadership can take this as an important example of statesman ship and the advantages of allowing young leaders to come up the system.