OPINION

Leaders don’t mind the political cost

leaders-dont-mind-the-political-cost

Greece is in urgent need of great reforms. As impressive as the country’s growth rate may be, we will face the same impasses unless we implement reforms in education, justice, healthcare, and the public administration.

We all say we are in favor of reforms. However, in practice, only some actually ever materialize. Others are voted into law but are never implemented, and some are simply consigned to oblivion.

Experience has demonstrated that no reform can succeed without those immediately involved owning it, as in taking responsibility for it and its implementation. You cannot reform the justice system without involving judges and lawyers. This applies to all vital sectors. It was proven in the era of the memoranda. The country was in turmoil, we were on the brink of civil strife, laws were being passed, parties were splintering, and in practice nothing changed. With a few exceptions. 

Reform means upsetting the status quo, it means evaluations, goal setting and meritocracy. It is only natural that those afraid of the above will react to reforms. What is needed is political leaderships that are not afraid to shoulder the political cost. However, even if these leaderships are found in politicians with the grit and vision, they are often not enough.

We need judge-leaders and teacher-leaders and so on, who will take ownership of these necessary reforms and convince their colleagues that the reforms should be implemented to the benefit of all. These types of personalities are rare these days. Union and other sector representatives seem to be – or rather are – politicians. They are skilled in saying no, hiding behind legalistic arguments, and asking for more jobs or higher wages. Those are obviously necessary, but unless there are radical changes it will be the money of the Greek people being tossed into a bottomless pit.

It would be great to hear from these leading personalities, to listen to the changes they believe are necessary. So far, we only find these leaders in the education sector. 

It is not easy for serious professionals to join the fray and support unpopular reforms. Their vigor can easily lead them into adventures, public ridicule, and threats. So, we end up with leaderships that monotonously retort no to every suggestion of change, and scared people. We can see the result all around us, and it does not look particularly promising.