“What we need is not a Leader to lead the masses- we need Leadership of the Self” -Excerpt from His Majesty The King’s address at the Calcutta University Convocation, 5th October 2010.
His Majesty, in most of his addresses to the people, attempts to hit the chord of leadership either directly or through recounting our beloved Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, an unprecedented world leader.
Bhutan is blessed with exemplary leaders whose vision, humility and tenacity are not just confined to grand speeches in packed auditoriums but are rather manifested in concrete actions on the ground. The Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (RIGSS), established as per the vision and under the personal initiative of His Majesty, stands a tall testimony of the foresight and will of our beloved King.
RIGSS, as one of many profound brainchilds of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, was inaugurated on 10th October 2013 as a leadership institute and a think tank. It functions with a very clear vision:‘To promote excellence in governance, leadership and strategic studies’. The institute was established at a very critical time when democracy was still in its formative years and the promotion of good governance through strong institutions and great leadership has become more important than ever before.
The main objective of the institute is to enhance the capabilities of current and future leaders through leadership training, research and other programs to help them contribute better to nation-building. It also provides a platform for objective discourse on critical national issues and serves as an incubator for new ideas and strategies to take the country forward in the most intelligent
and successful manner. “RIGSS aspires to be a premier leadership institute and a think tank, whose actions and activities can change things for the better for our country and people,” said Zimpon Wom Chewang Rinzin, the Director of RIGSS.
The institute today offers six different leadership courses for different target leadership trainees: Senior Executive Leadership Program (SELP) for all sectors, Military Leaders Strategic Studies Seminar (MLS) for the Armed Forces, Bhutan Executive Services Training (BEST) for civil service executives, Leadership Program for Parliamentarians (LPP) for MPs, Young Professionals Leadership Program (YPLP) for all sectors, and the Senior Executive Development Program (SEDP) for corporate sector executives.
RIGSS started with the SELP and subsequently launched other programs at different periods. With increasing number of participants showing enormous interest in the courses offered by RIGSS, the institute is planning to launch the “Future Leaders Program” (FLP) by next year, which is intended for entry-level professionals across various sectors.
“We will by then be covering the entire spectrum of professionals, from fresh recruits to senior executives in our leadership programs. This will be a significant achievement for the institute,” said Zimpon Wom Chewang Rinzin. Three years into functioning and RIGSS today already conducted 21 leadership courses with over five hundred executives and professionals trained. Eminent personalities are invited from within the country as well as from around the world to speak at the ‘RIGSS Friday Forum’, the institute’s flagship public lecture series, to motivate and inspire positive changes. RIGSS has also conducted several policy debates and policy seminars on pertinent national issues.
The faculties at RIGSS are from within the country as well as from outside, all of whom are experts of high repute with diverse professional backgrounds including scholars, academicians, researchers, practitioners and many more. Given that the courses provided currently are all short-termed, almost all of faculty members are visiting faculty. In the long run, RIGSS aspires to have its own full-time teaching faculty members and researchers.
“It’s one of our strategies to ensure that we attract and select the best candidates, who are academically strong, and have the passion, commitment and potential to assume top leadership positions. As such we accord very high importance to selection of candidates for our courses,” said Director Chewang Rinzin.
For courses such as SELP and YPLP, candidates are selected by the institute through a very competitive and merit-based selection process, which entails submission of personal credentials, written works, online psychometric tests, telephonic interview etc. RIGSS also takes into consideration academic qualification, extra-ordinary accomplishments and professional track records of the candidates. For other courses, such as Bhutan Executive Services Training (BEST) or Military Leaders Strategic Studies Seminar (MLS), respective organizations for which the courses are offered, nominate their best and the most relevant candidates to undergo the course.
The first course that RIGSS offered (SELP-1) was open only to the governmental and corporate executives as it was not easy for the institute at that time to set criteria for eligibility and selection of private candidates. But thereafter courses such as SELP and YPLP are open to all eligible candidates including those from private sector. “For RIGSS, the private sector is as important as the public sector and furthermore, diversity in the classroom always enriches learning,” said the RIGSS Director.
RIGSS functions as an autonomous, not-for-profit institute with the Governing Board as its governing authority. It has a nine-member Governing Board with His Majesty The King as the Chairman and Patron and eight other members from different organizations. Dasho Karma Tshiteem, Chairman of Royal Civil Service Commission, and Vice Chair of the RIGSS Governing Board, said, “RIGSS was born out of His Majesty’s vision to create cadres of leaders in all sections of Bhutanese society, united by the common purpose of securing the sovereignty and security of our country and the peace and happiness of our people.”
The institute has so far received overwhelming appreciation and response from the participants and different sections of the Bhutanese people. “Attending the four –week long Senior Executive Leadership Program (SELP) at RIGSS in 2015 was a big moment for me. It gave me the right environment to reflect on some of the simplest yet most important issues as a leader of the organization. In particular, the audience which His Majesty so graciously granted to us during our participation was highly motivating and helped me to commit myself to work harder, even more,” said Tshering Cigay Dorji, an alumnus of RIGSS and incumbent CEO of The Thimphu TechPark Limited.
“The Bhutanese people, for generations, will be grateful to His Majesty The King for establishing RIGSS. RIGSS will remain a timeless and priceless gift from the Throne to Bhutan and her people, the blessings and benefits from which may indeed be too far-reaching to immediately comprehend,” said Director Chewang Rinzin.
In 2009 His Majesty was listed as one of the most influential leaders in the world by GLIMPSE, one of the independent website that works in close collaboration with the National Geographic society.
“After many years of observing my father, working with government, touring the country, living in the villages and meeting the people, I learned that you don’t just become a leader for a prescribed and planned situation- you have to offer leadership whatever the circumstances.” -Excerpt from His Majesty’s speech, delivered in Madhavrao Scindia Memorial lecture hall in New Delhi on December 23rd, 2009.
Sonam Yangdon/ Thimphu