Leading the flock
The keystone of President Park Geun-hye’s New Year’s messages was the “reinvention of the nation.” While meeting 200 political and business leaders, she declared that the goals of a per capita income of $30,000 and the unification of the Korean Peninsula would top the national agenda. She emphasized the need to focus on systems and practices to improve the nation, saying they were as urgent as building new roads, ports and bridges.
But national renovation cannot come about through a president’s will alone. Such goals must be achieved through the united efforts of the entire population. The ruling and opposition political parties and the liberals and conservatives must set aside their differences to find the energy and wisdom for the common goal of rebuilding the country.
What’s also imperative is a change in the president’s governance style. The president’s unilateral, uncommunicative and uncompromising ways have been criticized by both ruling and opposition parties. Her top-down decision-making based on reports instead of discussions and consultations with aides have led to serious ill effects, such as allegations about the operations of a secret inner circle in the Blue House. The president’s aides tried to say that she often holds unofficial meetings with ruling party members. But the president needs to spend more time with lawmakers from both wings. The government this year faces a tough agenda, including reforming government employees’ pension system and Korea’s labor market, which cannot be done without the understanding of the concerned parties. The president must stand at the forefront to persuade the opposition and iron out differences.
Park cited the V-shaped flight formation of migratory birds during her New Year’s address. When geese at the front flap their wings in time with each other, it prevents drag for the whole flock, boosting flight capacity and decreasing fatigue by more than 70 percent. The belief that the leader at the head of the formation will lead the flock to warmer climes keeps the rest of the flock following in order. Such a belief in a community of humans can only be proven through dialogue and discussions. The opposition party head demanded Park show a little more “warm motherly and sisterly” leadership. It is the president’s turn to show that she is capable of offering such warmth and engagement. A leader is not merely at the head of a formation. He or she is the person others want to follow.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 3, Page 26