Essay About Good Governance And Leadership

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Helen Clark: The Importance of Governance for Sustainable Development

Mar 13, 2012

Remarks by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, on the occasion of the Singapore Lecture Series
The Importance of Governance for Sustainable Development
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
Tuesday 13 March, 3:10pm

I thank the Government of Singapore for the invitation to visit this week and for the opportunity to contribute to the renowned Singapore Lecture Series.

In the past two decades, I have spoken in Singapore on a number of occasions, first in my capacity as New Zealand’s Leader of the Opposition, and later as Prime Minister of my country.

I first set foot in Singapore in 1976, while in transit to Europe. Over the years I came to appreciate that Singapore and the East Asian region as a whole would play a far greater role in the prosperity and development of New Zealand than would the more distant Europe of my forebears with its reluctance to open its markets to the free flow of our exports.

Singapore as an outward looking, dynamic economy which prospered despite its lack of natural resources often provided inspiration for New Zealand. I myself learned a great deal from briefings here over the years on the strategies driving Singapore’s progress and the regionalisation of its economy, and from the insights into the region’s geopolitics derived from many meetings with this country’s leaders.

Overall I have come to know Singapore as a forward-looking country which invests in its people, makes its luck, and prospers accordingly.

Our host today, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, seeks “to stimulate thinking and explore solutions to major salient issues in the region.”[1]

The topic of my lecture, the importance of governance for sustainable development, is salient for the peoples of Singapore and its neighbours, and indeed for peoples around the world.

Singapore has demonstrated from the earliest days of its independence that good governance matters a great deal in getting development results. Strong vision and leadership at the political level, backed by a high quality public service contributing to the design and execution of policy, has transformed Singapore into the modern, entrepreneurial nation we know it as today.

In that process, Singapore has shown an ability to reinvent itself continually to meet new challenges. The capacity to keep doing that will be critical to the country’s ongoing success. I note now the debate occurring around the next generation of change for the Singapore model, and believe that this is a healthy process.

The Prime Minister himself has noted that last year’s election campaign and results “show that Singaporeans want their politics to evolve to become more consultative and inclusive. Singaporeans want to be engaged in shaping their future, and want the government to be more responsive to their immediate needs.” As Singapore evolves, I believe it is likely to address decisively the challenges which have emerged to its current development model, not least rising inequality, and move to greater engagement of its people in pursuing equitable and sustainable development.

Our world has experienced unprecedented development progress over the last four decades, leading to the global population as a whole being healthier, wealthier, and better educated than ever before. As we approach the 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we are within reach of seeing every child enrolled in primary school, and many fewer lives are being lost to poverty, hunger, and disease.

Sustainable development must be about enabling countries to accelerate and sustain that progress. It must be about establishing a trajectory of human development which allows all people to exercise their choices and meet their aspirations, both in this generation and those to come. It must also be about enabling the benefits of development to spread to those left behind in the progress made to date.

Good governance which drives the achievement of  development results must also now rise to the challenge of achieving the equitable and sustainable development which will secure our common future. This is a key theme of my remarks today.

The opportunity of Rio+20

Three months from now, representatives of governments meeting at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil will take decisions which could significantly influence the world’s ability to set a sustainable course.

To do so, they will need to confront the inconvenient truths which are so often disguised by aggregate and average figures of progress. Many of the seven billion people on our planet home live in highly unequal societies where extreme poverty persists, and/or in regions already contending with extreme climate variability.

The multiple crises which have gripped our world in recent years have exacerbated these challenges, and have shown our planet’s economic, social, and eco-systems to be under considerable stress. The greatest risk to our common future, as pointed out by the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, lies in continuing down our current path.

Economic and human development progress cannot be sustained if the ecosystems on which they depend are irreparably damaged, and if gross inequity leaves our societies unstable and lacking cohesion.

Just as the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro set a new direction for our world twenty years ago, so, now, current development models should be re-examined to see what works, why, and where we can and must do better.  Rio+20 can play a significant role in rebalancing and resetting the global development agenda.

Looking to both Rio+20 and beyond 2015 to the development framework which will succeed the Millennium Development Goals, the question I ask is not only what do we want our common future to look like, but also how can good governance help us achieve it.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said in a recent speech that from now on “we want the word ‘development’ always associated with the term ‘sustainable’.” Further, she said “we believe that it is possible to grow and to include, to protect, and to conserve”.

I agree. Not only is it possible to grow and to include, protect, and conserve at the same time, but also truly equitable and sustainable human development requires that we do so.

Our decisions at the national, regional, and global levels can help restore the global environmental commons, and provide access to the economic means and services which the poor need to expand their choices and opportunities.

This is not only, or even mainly, a challenge for developing countries. It is a global challenge. Clear responsibility rests with countries of the global north, to address their own social fractures, reduce their environmental footprint, and act in a way which supports the development of the global south.

I believe humankind can meet this challenge.

The role of governance

I use the opportunity of being here in Singapore, to highlight an essential but under-discussed aspect of what it will take to do so: the importance of active, effective, honest, and fair governance at all levels. 

Through our support for countries striving to achieve sustainable development around the world, UNDP observes again and again the importance of such governance for achieving development results. Three reasons could be postulated for that:

First, active governance, which anticipates and responds to the needs of its citizen and evolving development challenges, with deliberate, targeted, and pro-active planning and delivery, is essential to getting the business of development done.

Active and effective governance requires governing institutions which are capable of delivering reliable and quality services where and when they are needed. It requires public administration which can collect revenues honestly, allocate and invest public funds wisely, and manage public goods, including land and other natural resources, for the benefit of all.

As we know from Singapore’s history, active and effective governance has made a substantial contribution to this country’s development success.

As was highlighted in the joint UNDP-Singapore publication launched last year, “Virtuous Cycles: The Singapore Public Service and National Development”, Singapore’s exceptionally effective public administration was no accident. It was the result of the Government’s deliberate effort, which continues to this day, to put in place the institutional and other arrangements required for effective governance. 

That, in turn, spurred national development, creating a virtuous cycle which has given Singapore one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the world. As well, last year Singapore ranked a high 26 out of 187 countries in UNDP’s Human Development Index – which is a composite index of education, health and income measures.

Second, effective governance is a prerequisite for putting in place the integrated policymaking capacity which is needed to drive sustainable development.

A sustainable development response to the complex and interlinked challenges countries face today demands policymaking which views economic growth, poverty reduction, social development, equity, and sustainability not as competing goals to be traded off against each other, but as interconnected objectives which are most effectively pursued together.

The important realization is that in pursuing one objective, we can either advance, slow, or stall progress in another. Reducing environmental degradation, for example, can create jobs, and help alleviate poverty. The converse also applies: a degraded environment can undermine the long term economic and social health of a country.

To get the wide range of policies moving in the same direction, governments must be able to understand and harness the connections between them. Policy makers and their advisors need to be able to weigh the evidence and identify the ‘triple-win’ solutions which can bring economic, environmental, and social benefits. Policy and regulatory frameworks must also be designed to attract and use finance and new technologies in ways which generate sustainability and meet the needs of citizens, including the poorest and most vulnerable.

Achieving this puts a premium on having a capable public service and effective governance mechanisms which can weave the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development together. 

Here, again, Singapore has experiences worthy of study. In setting out a “Sustainable Development Blueprint”, the Government of Singapore took a ‘whole of government’ approach which brought together all relevant Ministries to analyse emerging challenges and determine how to tackle them.

Through this cross-sectoral approach, Ministers and committee members were able to identify the actions needed to overcome challenges, reduce risks, and take advantage of opportunities, to ensure the sustainability of Singapore’s remarkable social and economic progress for current and future generations.

Third, fair governance matters for sustainable development because it holds the key to building stable and secure societies and to driving inclusive growth within the finite boundaries of our planet over the long term. Fair, reliable, and accountable governing institutions build trust between people and government.

Such institutions need to be free of corruption. Meaningful engagement and participation of citizens in shaping decisions which impact on them is also important, as is the existence of independent institutions which can hold government to account.

Through its democratic governance work, UNDP is supporting over one hundred countries to strengthen the institutions and processes needed to build trust, improve responsiveness, and advance development. Through our experience of this work, we have learned that there can be no uniform approach to it. Our efforts are tailored to individual countries’ contexts and respond to their requests, for example, to help strengthen electoral, legislative, justice and anti-corruption systems, and enhance public administration and service delivery, including to reach those most in need.

Through our respective experiences and histories, Singapore and UNDP have both learned lessons about the importance of active, effective, honest, and fair governance for getting development results. Later in this lecture, I will elaborate more on how such governance can help drive equitable and sustainable development.

First, however, let me reflect on our world’s progress to date in putting the concept of sustainable development into practice, and on why we need to advance both equity and sustainability through good governance.

Equitable and Sustainable Development – is there progress?

In 1987, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development, delivered the Commission’s report to the United Nations. It called on the world to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

At the Earth Summit in 1992, that far sighted concept of sustainable development was backed in a strong Declaration and in Agenda 21, setting out what needs to happen to sustain a healthy environment and promote inclusive development.

Twenty years later, Rio +20 needs to re-commit to that unfinished agenda, and marry it to countries’ on-going and concerted efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. 

The MDGs have been successful in generating political leadership, broad partnerships, and civic engagement for development. Preliminary 2010 data from the World Bank suggest that the world as a whole has already met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. The proportion of people without access to safe drinking water has been cut in half, well in advance of 2015 deadline. [2]

The MDG targets on gender parity in primary education [3], and child mortality are likely to be met or nearly met by 2015. The total number of children out of school fell by one third during the last decade – from 106 million to sixty-seven million. [4]

Progress has also been made on key environmental objectives. Global conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification, all a legacy of the Earth Summit, have come into effect. Global chlorofluorocarbon production has been phased out, and the ozone layer is expected to recover [5]. More actors in the private sector are engaged in securing an environmentally sound future.

But the world has changed significantly since the MDGs were launched more than a decade ago. There is now a much greater appreciation of the threat and the reality of climate change. It is clear that countries which lack the capacity to adapt to that change, and the poorest and most marginalized people who depend directly on natural resources for their livelihoods, are more vulnerable to this threat and will be disproportionately affected by it.

The projected increase in the world’s population from seven billion to almost nine billion by 2040 will place more strain on our planet’s ecosystems.

Globally, nearly forty per cent of land is degraded due to soil erosion, reduced fertility, and overgrazing. Yet, by 2030, it is estimated that the world will need at least fifty per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy, and thirty per cent more water. [6]

Adverse environmental factors are predicted to cause world food prices to rise by thirty to fifty per cent in real terms in the coming decades and to increase price volatility, with harsh repercussions for poor households. [7]

The high numbers of people trying to survive below or just above the extreme poverty line of $1.25-a-day points to the continuing vulnerability of poor people across the world [8].

It is not only Singapore which is now debating the impact of income inequality and how to address it. This is now a significant global issue, commanding our attention at the highest multilateral and national levels. Inequality was a major topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, as political and corporate leaders alike reflected on its impact on social cohesion and stability.  

According to a report by Credit Suisse, the world’s richest one per cent held 43 per cent of the world’s total wealth in 2010, while the lowest fifty per cent held under two per cent. UNICEF estimates that on trends observed between 1990 and 2007, it would take more than eight hundred years for the poorest one billion people to achieve ten per cent of global income [9]. UNICEF also notes the disturbing high prevalence of children and young people in the lowest income quintiles, with approximately fifty per cent in the group living under the $2 a day poverty line in the 1990-2007 period. This has obvious implications for children’s health status, their opportunities – or lack of them - for education, and their wellbeing and income prospects later in life.

Pursuing More Equitable and Sustainable Models of Development, and the Role of Governance

The protests on the streets of cities around the world from Europe and the United States to the Arab States region and elsewhere suggest that persistent inequities are no more politically sustainable than the devastation of our ecosystems is environmentally sustainable. Put the two sets of challenges together and we have issues which will take visionary, strategic, and determined governments working with a wide range of stakeholders and with an engaged citizenry to address.

Going forward, new models of development are needed to meet existing and emerging challenges. Development must help reduce inequalities and inequities, while ensuring that we stay within the ecological boundaries of the one planet we have to live on.

In these new models, we need to look beyond the speed of economic growth as a driver of development and examine its quality. The forty year review of human development progress undertaken by UNDP for its 2010 global Human Development Report, found that it is the quality, more than the speed, of growth which matters most in lifting human development.

Thus growth needs to be both inclusive and sustainable. It needs to expand opportunities for decent livelihoods and ensure that all can benefit. Active, effective, honest, and fair governance is important in achieving that. Market forces will create winners and losers. Public policy and its implementation can give everyone a chance to succeed.

A decade ago, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, issued from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, also stressed that “Good governance within each country and at the international level is essential for sustainable development.”

In 2012 it is now time to bring the MDG and sustainable development agendas together, and for reinvigorated action around them. Achieving that will require active, effective, honest, and fair governance too. The Singapore experience and UNDP’s observations from decades of involvement in capacity building demonstrate why such governance matters.

In the first place, without good governance, countries will find it hard to achieve any sustained development results, let alone rise to the contemporary challenge of achieving equitable and sustainable development.

Here in Singapore, leaders of the newly independent state recognised how important effective public administration would be for achieving national goals. The country’s leaders understood that the role of public administration was not only to deliver public goods and services reliably, but also to back the national strategic vision through the development and pursuit of appropriate policy.

UNDP and its predecessor organisations worked with Singapore from those early years. Dr. Albert Winsemius supported the young country’s leaders to lay the ground for a viable, export-oriented economy. Strategic choices were made about which sectors to build.

UNDP and others worked with many arms of the government here, offering technical advice and support for improvements in productivity, technology upgrades in selected industries, and skills training to drive the economy forward. An exceptional public service rallied round this focused development agenda.

Singapore’s government acted early and decisively to root out corruption, enabling it to build a merit-based public service which remains one of the world’s most effective to this day.

The story of how Singapore was transformed from a city where corruption was rife at the time of independence to one of the least corrupt places in the world is remarkable. It started from an understanding that Singapore's development strategy required the attraction of foreign investment, which in turn, depended on having clean government. On that foundation was built a solid and unwavering political commitment to tackle corruption.

A relatively small, but very competent and dedicated, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and a solid legal framework also played a vital role. The circumstances of Singapore are unique, but the example of how political will married with technical competence can successfully fight corruption, and build an effective public administration, is one from which many can learn.

Singapore’s experience, as distilled in the “Virtuous Cycles” publication, can and does inform the work of UNDP, as we advise and support countries to build strong public administration and root out corruption.

For example, through UNDP’s work with countries on implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), we stress the importance of strong, well-staffed, anti-corruption institutions, and the need for citizen review and feedback mechanisms.

Last year, UNDP brought together high-level representatives from twenty countries in the Asia Pacific region to exchange experiences on how to measure and prevent corruption, including through the use of new technologies.

Partly as a result of this meeting, India’s “” anti-corruption initiative is now likely to be replicated in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The initiative enables citizens to report bribery attempts anonymously to a website, where the information is then summarised and made public, enabling those working against corruption to use it.

At the most local level of government UNDP has also observed what works in improving basic services. When people are given a say about such services, such as access to clean and reliable water, and those providing them are made accountable, service delivery tends to improve. For example, with the support of UNDP, the Bonda Town community in Kenya established a feedback mechanism for water service, and gave people a say in the governance of water boards. This led to better training for water service providers, the annual revenue from water provision increased, and more people received reliable access to safe water.  

The challenge now for governance at all levels is to make it fit for purpose for equitable and sustainable development. The challenges confronting governments and our world today are complex and multifaceted. They defy solution by any single ministry or set of stakeholders, and often their global dimensions mean they are beyond the capacity of any single country to resolve. We need effective governance at the global level too.

At the national level, there are good examples of integrated decision making. The ingredients of success include;

· the leadership of the head of state or government, or of another very senior figure,

· broad political support in a legislature,

· mobilisation of a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including sub-national governments, academia and research institutes, the private sector, and civil society,

· setting realistic time frames for achieving results, which are long enough to address development challenges, but short enough to influence behavior today;

· alignment with national budgets, sectoral programmes, and, where relevant, development partner activities, and

· having measurable indicators by which to assess progress.

Singapore itself has developed an impressive ‘whole-of-government’ approach in its Blueprint for Sustainable Development.

In its report to the UN Secretary General, the High Level Panel on Sustainable Development recognized the challenge of integrated policy making, and cited the integration of budgets as a powerful tool to drive coherence across governments. That may mean allocating resources to strategic goals rather than to individual ministries or departments. Integrated approaches look for multiple wins from policies, where living standards improve and the environment is looked after.

A good example of such an approach is to be found in Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net programme [4], which has reached over eight million beneficiaries in three hundred food-insecure districts. It provides cash and predictable food supplies in return for work done on environmental conservation, water source protection, and terracing. The calorie intake of recipient households has increased by nineteen per cent.

Overall I am also very impressed by Ethiopia’s strategy for raising living standards while maintaining low carbon emissions, through its Climate Resilient Green Growth Initiative launched late last year.

In Niger’s southern regions, farmers, supported by local communities, [5] have reforested five million hectares, or about four per cent of the country’s land area. This has improved soil quality and increased cereal yields by 100 kilograms per hectare in 2009, securing livelihoods and improving food security in the area. More support for these kinds of “multiple win” solutions is urgently needed in Niger and elsewhere in the Sahel, to build resilience and lock in development gains through periods of recurrent and intense droughts.

Integrated decision making for sustainable development is vital at sub-national levels too. Many policies relevant to building resilience, including adapting to extreme climate, like disaster risk reduction, natural resource management, and land-use planning, are often dealt with at that level. Building the capacity of sub-national authorities to work in these ways is a priority for UNDP.

An agenda on better governance for sustainable development

Meeting the needs of people today, without compromising those of future generations, requires governance to rise to new levels of effectiveness and develop new capacities for integrated policy-making around a clear vision for sustainable development.

East Asia's dynamic economic performance has benefited hundreds of millions of people, but, as elsewhere in the world, that growth model has also led to environmental degradation, and it has exposed inequalities within nations, as some have clearly benefited far more than others.

There are dimensions to the sustainability challenge where regional frameworks for co-operation and integration are useful, enabling exchange of best practices and innovation, and fostering a sense of shared responsibility for transborder issues.  As a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore has always given strong commitment to regional integration and to South-South co-operation across the grouping. 

The ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Co-operation (APAEC) 2010-2015 is an example of how a regional framework can lead the way, by providing targets for energy security and sustainability, and promoting shared responsibility for the region’s development.    

At the global level, Rio +20 offers an opportunity to strengthen international governance for sustainable development. It could establish a mechanism to evaluate and review progress. UNDP has proposed, as an option, the creation of a Sustainable Development Council.

Such a Council could be equipped with a universal periodic review mechanism, through which countries would review each other’s performance, on a voluntary basis, across the three dimensions of sustainable development. The review could be tailored to the specific circumstances and challenges of each particular country, and might also include an assessment of the international support being provided by the UN and the International Financial Institutions.

A voluntary review mechanism could also be a way of sharing best practice and lessons on how to advance sustainable development.

Ongoing reform of the UN development system can also help developing countries design joined-up policies for sustainable development. A well co-ordinated UN Country Team can offer the integrated policy services which can support countries to tackle cross-cutting issues. It is my hope that Rio+20 and the UN General Assembly’s Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review later this year will both be catalysts for stronger and more effective co-ordination within the UN development system.

South-South and triangular co-operation also have an important role to play in building governance and technical capacities for sustainable development. The Singapore Co-operation Programme has a long tradition of contributing to knowledge exchange through courses, seminars, and workshops in key development areas, including in public governance and administration.  Over the years this Programme has reached out to more than 75,000 government officials from 170 developing countries.

UNDP has been partner of this programme since 1992. We look forward to furthering this partnership, building on Singapore’s expertise in public administration, through South-South and triangular co-operation in the region and beyond.  


Our world has the capacity to design pathways to a future grounded in equitable and sustainable development, which meets the needs of current generations without compromising those of the future.  Rio + 20 in June can set the direction for such development for decades to come, just as the landmark Rio Earth Summit did in 1992.

I note that Singapore played an important role at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where Ambassador Tommy Koh chaired the Preparatory and Main Committees. I hope that this country’s diplomatic skills will be fully deployed again in the service of a good outcome from Rio+20 this year.

Singapore’s own experience shows how visionary and development-oriented leadership, combined with competent and honest public administration, can drive sustained development results.  That experience can be harnessed in the service of truly equitable and sustainable development across the economic, social, and environmental pillars.

At the United Nations’ MDG Summit in 2010, powerful and compelling development success stories made a big impact, sending delegates home re-energized and with new ideas on how to accelerate their own efforts. Rio+20 also needs to showcase sustainable development achievements in areas such as energy, to show how “triple win” policies can work.

But for these policies to work, governance is important. Political leadership matters, and so does a quality civil service. A nation committed to a vision of equitable and sustainable development, to clean and effective government, to engaging citizens in dialogue about the way ahead and in implementation, and to building the capacities required to drive the vision forward will be a nation which enhances the wellbeing not only of its own citizens, but of our planet as a whole.


[1] From the institutes’ website ‘about us’


[3] page 20.

[4] page 17

[5] “Over the past decade concentration and extent of ozone neither notably decreased nor increased (WMO/UNEP 2010). The ozone layer outside the Polar regions is expected to recover to its pre-1980 levels before 2050.”  Page 26

[6] Resilient People, Resilient planet: A Future Worth Choosing” Report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainable Development, 2012, Page 11


[8] World Bank Press release,,contentMDK:23130032~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html

[9] See UNICEF Working Paper, April 2011, “Global Inequality: Beyond the Bottom Billion”, Page 19

[4] World Bank, “Public Safety Net Programme” (,,contentMDK:21072837~menuPK:2677615~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:295930,00.html).

[5] Blay, D., et al., Rehabilitation of Degraded Lands in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons Learned from Selected Case Studies, Forestry Research Network For Sub-Saharan Africa, 2004 (


Without effective leadership and Good Governance at all levels in private, public and civil organizations, it is arguably virtually impossible to achieve and to sustain effective administration, to achieve goals, to sustain quality and deliver first-rate services. The increasing complexities and requirements arising from the constant change in society, coupled with the constant push for higher levels of productivity, require effective and ethical leadership. Good governance and effective-ethical leadership are the essential requirements for an organization to be considered successful in the eyes of all stakeholders in the 21st century.

This short term paper deals with the essential qualities of effective leadership and its relatedness with universally accepted principles of Good Governance. More over it deals with the impacts of effective qualities of leadership on the implementation of principles of Good Governance. This Article is outlined in five sections. The first section is about definition of key words utilized in the paper. The second section deals about selected essential qualities of leadership. The third section deals with principles of Good Governance. The fourth sections deals with qualities of Effective Leadership and Its Impact on implementation of principles of Good Governance. The last and the fifth section deals with conclusion and recommendation. 

What is meant by Leadership?

Although the concept of leadership is as old as human history,interest in leadership increased during the early part of the twentieth century. Various theories of leadership has emerged and contributed much to the development of leadership concept. It is a difficult concept to fully appreciate and understand. Burns (1987) suggests that, leadership is one of the most observed, but least understood phenomena on earth. Though there are a number of definitions are proposed by different scholars given the changing and dynamic nature of our globe, for the purpose of this assignment let’s take the following definition of the term. Accordingly, “Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.

As Northouse (2003: page 3) points out, leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. From the above definition of the term one can understand that it includes the process by which individuals influence others. The outcome of the process is nothing but achieving a common goal through the commitment and willingness of both leaders and followers. In general, leadership is about relationships. Above all, it is about working with and guiding people in new directions; it is about integrity and trust; achieving the most positive interaction between leaders and followers, customers, employees, shareholders….etc.


Recently the terms "governance" and "good governance" are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance (which is the opposite of good governance) is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions (like World Bank and IMF) are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure “Governance” and "good governance" are undertaken. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented. Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.

It is also defined as "the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country's social and economic resources for development". Governance can be seen, therefore, as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country's affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.

Since governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented, an analysis of governance focuses on the formal and informal actors involved in decision-making and implementing the decisions made and the formal and informal structures that have been set in place to arrive at and implement the decision.

Good Governance

The concept of good governance is commonly used in the late nineties of the last century and especially by the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other international and regional organizations and local communities. Although good governance is not conclusively defined in international law, there are specific indications in various international documents about its meaning in an international legal context. This can be seen, for example, in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rightsi) in Article 21, which recognizes and stresses the importance of participation in government and ii) in Article 28, which states that everyone is entitled to an international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration can be fully realized.

Various UN Committees have also recognized the importance and definition of good governance in their work. For example, General Comment 12 by the Committee on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights on the right to adequate food states that “good governance” is essential to the realization of all human rights, including the elimination of poverty. The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Council also refer to good governance in relation to legal security and justice.The term is also defined as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”.

From the above definitions of the term, Good governance is, among other things, involves participation, transparency, accountability and rule of law. It also involves effectiveness and equity in governance activity. Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources.

Essential Qualities of Effective Leadership

Various literatures reveal that a team is recognized by the leadership qualities and skills that are associated with its leader. Hence, it can be considered that if a leader is not performing up to the required standard, the team will obviously not give out their best as well. The main aspects that leaders should consider are the leadership qualities and skills. In order for a process to be successful, it is very important that it is given under charge to an effective leader who has all the leadership qualities and skills.

       A team working under an effective leader with quality leadership will always perform the best and set an example for members from other organization’s practices.

The qualities of an effective leadership may vary from person to person based on the context in which he was brought up and moulded. Thousands of articles and books have been published describing what it takes to be an effective leader and its respective qualities and skills. Some researchers and authors claim an effective leader possesses certain traits or abilities; others say it is all personality; still others maintain it is the behaviour--not necessarily the intentions or thoughts—that are crucial.

Moreover, qualities of an effective leadership vary based on the area of operation and expertise. Accordingly, the leadership qualities of business person, religious leader, military leader, sportsman or political leader vary from one another based on the area of operation and the expertise required for each of them. Whatever our viewpoint, under the following discussion, let’s see about the selected qualities of an effective leadership which are relevant to the context of this assignment.


Competency is among the important qualities of an effective leadership. In its most basic form, the anatomy of leadership is a matter of character and competence. As a leader, the leader must be seen by his followers being an expert in our field or an expert in leadership. Unless his   followers see as highly credential--either by academic degree or with specialized experience--and capable of leading his group or organization to success, it will be more difficult for him to be respected, admired, or followed.

Practically speaking, not all leaders immediately possess all of the qualities that spell success. Many leaders learn along the way with hard work. As crises and challenges arise, those at the top of the hierarchy have key opportunities to demonstrate to others that they are in fact, qualified to be leaders. In actuality, greater competency can be achieved as a leader gains more on-the-job experiences.

For a leader to be genuinely competent, he needs to demonstrate both professional and leadership competencies. Leader’s professional competency rests on a particular expertise of certain professional area. This shows that based on the area of expertise, professional competency varies. The other important aspect of an effective leadership quality is leadership competency, which refers to how the leader understands different levels of leadership responsibility and kinds of leadership approach applied appropriately to the right level. Leadership in private institutions is exercised differently from leadership regarding public institutions. This shows that in each case the leadership skills are different based on the nature of the institutions.

Even though, both professional and leadership competencies are important, the former is not indispensable to a great leadership (Bell, 2006). Hence, one can lead an organization with only leadership competency if his leadership competency is strong. More over, even though professional competency is important quality for an effective leadership, a person may not become competent in all professions. Putting it in another words, a leader may not need to be an expert on every area of the organization; rather he may need to demonstrate professional competency in some area. Competency does not necessarily refer to the leader’s technical abilities. Rather it refers to the ability to challenge the challenge. It is the leader’s quality to inspire, enable, being a role model and encourages others. Above all, it is leader’s quality to be visionary with regard to the organization they lead with sufficient understanding about the vision, mission and the goal of their organization.    


Accountabilityis a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is another important quality for an effective leadership and often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answer-ability, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) worlds.

In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

Through accountability, a leader fosters trust. Accountability can be manifested by taking risks for both success and failure of an organization. Accountability is not something blaming others for failure. Rather it is taking part in every process or journey to reach at best the destination by learning from the current events be it good or bad. It is a true leader that acts in this by taking a risk.

To sum up, as a leader, above all, we have to accept personal accountability for our actions. In the same way we have to also accept accountability for our omissions –which means not doing what we are ought to do.


Openness is the other essential quality of an effective leader. Openness as a leadership quality has many things in it. The first is openness to accept change or new idea. Since change is an undeniable part of life, the leader has to be ready to accept this. The reality is that life stops when change stops. A key part of leadership is recognizing and adapting to change, and making choices about how change happens when you need to Change is feared by most people, so it is understandable that they resist it.

Our ability to choose the direction of change, and to recognize the opportunities that present themselves when uninvited change occurs is enhanced by our self-awareness. It results in an openness to change that is the second key to what makes a good leader. When we become open to change we could get to choose the kind of change that happens and how it will work for us and our organization. Openness, among others, consists integrity in it. Through openness, we build our personal integrity which implies that our strong internal guiding principles that one does not compromise.


In our everyday life, the way we communicate with others may have its own positive or negative impact on the relationships we have with others. Whatever the case, in order to have a positive relation with others, we have to use positive language instead of negative language. Negative languages are “killing languages”. When we say language, it is not mere types of language we speak; rather it is the style of receiving and giving certain information by using any language. While communicating with others, the leader has to use constructive words, terms or phrases instead of killing words or terms or phrases.  We have to wash our destructive words by using more constructive terms.

 Effective communication skills undoubtedly top the list of most important leadership qualities - irrespective of which field is being taken into consideration. An individual shouldn't just have ideas, but should also exercise the means of communicating these ideas across the table in an effective manner.

The concept of effective communication is not just restricted to the act of delivering speeches from the stage or addressing a gathering of people, it includes any communication with individuals at the grass roots and taking their feedback. As a leader of certain organization we may address various issues with people at different level, but ignoring these differences while communicating costs us a lot if we did not use constructive terms while communicating with others based on the context at hand. The leader is expected to communicate positively even towards irritating issues or persons by using “GREEN BINOCULAR LENSES”. By these lenses we can see not only the negative aspects of a given issue, but also the positive side of that issue. Without seeing and understanding things with these lenses, we may not reach at the targeted goals {emphasis added}

Above all by using positive language, through effective communication, first the leader builds his relationship with his followers and other persons. Second, effective communication is important because it provides the leader and followers with great access of information relevant to important organizational decisions. Good communication should be supplemented by good listening skill; because it helps to understand the idea of others and to respond accordingly.


Value is another important quality that effective leaders must posses. Value is the intrinsic worth, quality or excellence that renders a thing useful or desirable. It is a core belief what is right and fair in terms of one’s actions and interactions with others. It is the tool we use in making decision. What we build through a process while living in a given society is our own character. And it is our character … that ultimately determines the course of our lives.  Values may be based on knowledge, aesthetic consideration, moral grounds or combination of these.

A leader must choose the values that are most important to him; he has to select the value that he believes in and defines him more. And he has to live them visibly every day at work. If we object lying we have to keep ourselves from lying. Because living our value is one of the most powerful tools available for us to lead and influence others.

Values are influenced by culture and society. Given the difference in culture in our globe, values are interpreted by each of us in our own way.  Putting it in another word, value reflects culture and has social elements, principles, or standards that are accepted by a group of society over a long period of time.

Relating it to leadership, it is an essential quality for effective leadership. It helps the leader to be aware of different philosophical beliefs and values even if they do not agree with them. Adherence to the values accepted by the leader is the most important factor in an organization’s success. Because it tells us what is right and wrong while making a decision that affects positively or negatively certain organization or society while we are acting as a leader.


This is another essential quality that is important to be an effective leader. Having this quality gives you the ability to see the world from different angles. A leader who is equipped with this quality expectedly says “the way I see the world is not the only way it is” His thinking is changed to “the world is the way we all see it”. Perspective here means that, there is a possibility to change my view to give me new insights for my action. This quality entails great intellectuality and philosophical humbleness from member of certain organization.

To sum up, whatever our task may be, it always helps to have the right perspective or approach towards various work-related issues. A true and an effective leader is able to visualize his/her goals from different angles and plans things accordingly. This would enable proper distribution of tasks and ensure productive results.


Power is another important quality that the leader must posses. Power or the way the leaders behave emanate from the principles on which organizations are crafted. Hence, the power that is exercised is the other side of the coin. Due to the system’s tenets, individuals are influenced and have some kind of “shape” in their performance and leadership style. It is through this kind of power that individuals impose influence over others.

In the past we have been taught that leadership is position, so we go for position, but when we are in the esteemed position, we realize that it does not follow that everyone follows us. We do not lead through structure, through influence. Positional leaders only influence positional followers, whereas, real leaders influence everyone. From this one can understand that having a position does not mean influencing others. Position does not make the leader, but the leader make the position if he influences others willingly and enthusiastically. For an effective leadership, power is influencing people to commit to the vision and mission of an organization. It is not having position of certain level and exerting force over others.


This is one of the effective leadership qualities. Though leaders have the maximum responsibility, and though they are the ones who work harder than anyone else in the group, a leader needs to be down-to-earth. He should not think of himself as someone special, he should understand that he is just a leader and not the owner of his people. Only if the leader is humble, people will approach him. It is the duty of a leader to motivate hispeople, and only if a leader is a humble will he be able to guide and support his group members.

Principles of Good Governance

Various literatures express principles of Good Governance in different contexts. Some of   them put it in relation to development and others from the view point of human rights. For instance, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank put it in relation to development. Whereas, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right states it in terms of the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights, civil, cultural, economic and political and social rights. Whatever the case, the writer of this short term paper adheres himself to take the principles of Good Governance which are proposed by the UNDP and the World Bank.

According to UNDP and World Bank, Good Governance has eight principles/characteristics. These are:


üRule of law;



üConsensus oriented;

üEquity and inclusiveness;

üEffectiveness and efficiency;


Qualities of Effective Leadership and Its Impact on Implementation of Principles of Good Governance

In the preceding discussions, the writer tries to state about the meanings of some key words. In addition, among essential qualities of effective leadership the most important qualities of effective leadership have been touched. Furthermore, major characteristics/principles of Good Governance have been stated in a short and precise way. Under the following discussion, the qualities of effective leadership and its impact on implementation of Principles of Good Governance will be presented.

The current situation shows that without effective leadership and good governance at all levels in private, public and civil organizations, it is arguably virtually impossible to achieve and to sustain effective administration, to achieve goals, to sustain quality and deliver first-rate services. The increasing complexities and requirements arising from the constant change in our globe, coupled with the constant push for higher levels of productivity, require effective and ethical leadership. For me, effective leadership and Good Governance are two sides of the same coin. The two has many elements in common. Without an effective leadership we may not ensure Good Governance in its totality.

As it has been said earlier in the preceding discussions, an effective leadership requires its own essential quality. For instance, competence (both professional and leadership) is among the essential qualities of effective leadership. A leader without having competency may not be effective and efficient in leading an organization. When we see in light of Good Governance, efficiency and effectiveness in giving services to the public, utilization of resources both human and material is among the key principle of Good Governance. If a leader lacks competency about what he has doing he may not be effective and efficient in discharging his responsibility which results in misuse of public resources.

The other point to be discussed is accountability envisages making accountable the leader for his action or omission. The same principle is applied in ensuring Good Governance. Taking government as one of the actors in governance, accountability ensures actions and decisions taken by public officials are subject to oversight so as to guarantee that government initiatives meet their stated objectives and respond to the needs of the community they are meant to be benefiting, thereby contributing to better governance and poverty reduction. Because, exercise of public authority is not taken for granted. In my view exercising public authority may result in arbitrariness if not exercised in a responsible way.

Depending on the sort of mechanism involved, accountability serves as an instrument to achieve various important elements Good Governance. Who is accountable to who varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. What ever the case it cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.

The other important quality of effective leadership is openness. In exercising leadership, openness fosters integrity and dedication of the leader to achieve the targeted goal. By dedication, it is to mean that the leader spends all of his time to accomplish the targeted objective being a model for others. Through openness, there is free flow of information among leaders and followers, including the public at large. Because, the leaders are there to serve the public at large. Relating it to Good Governance, the Public has a right to access information and to have a say about what the leaders do on behalf of the public at large. Here one thing that should be taken into account is that the leader should have to be cautious not to disclose confidential information. 

 Participation can be possible if the leader is open. When we say participation it is by both men and women as it is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation needs to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand. This can be fruitful if and only if the leader is ready to be open to share new ideas. Otherwise, if the public is denied the right to access of information it results in loss of public trust; and this in turn results in public grievance and social disturbance.

Moreover, because the leaders are there to serve the common interests of certain group of people, to achieve effectively the objective they set, they have to reach at consensus by allowing the participation of those interested group of concerned people. Because, consensus orientation is a corner stone for Good Governance by mediating different interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interest of the group and here, possible on policies and procedures.

Openness can be also manifested through transparent working systems and procedures. That is to say decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media. The same principle is applied in ensuring Good Governance.

Equity and inclusiveness is one of the important principles in ensuring Good Governance. In the absence of a leadership that encourages openness, participation, transparency we may not envisage equity and inclusiveness. A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well being. This can be achieved only if the leader gives such opportunity; otherwise, the society, particularly, those vulnerable have no chance to reflect their interest.

Conclusion and Recommendation


Good governance and effective leadership are the essential requirements for an organization to be considered successful in the eyes of all stakeholders in the 21st century. There is a direct link between Good Governance, effective leadership and economic prosperity. The difference between African and Asian countries, many of which started their history as states at the same point in the 1960s, is striking. Lack of effective leadership is the main cause for Africa’s lagging behind from the rest of the world. Governance intertwined with effective leadership is the key variable.

Effective leadership and Good Governance are two sides of the same coin. The two have many elements in common. Without an effective leadership we may not envisage Good Governance in its totality. In fact, Good Governance may not be achieved in its totality because of cultural, psychological, social and sociological impacts and differences. Its implementation and perception also varies inline with the level of development and demands of the society. Due to this, the practice shows that very few countries and societies have come close to achieving good governance in its totality.


The following recommendations are forwarded by the writer based on the above discussions.  

Every individual, particularly, leaders are required to be committed to their words to discharge their responsibilities as a leader and as an individual; commitment is the foundation for all other responsibilities;

Leaders are required to “walk their talk”; they are required to do practically what they have  said by their mouth;

Readiness to accept change is another key element in ensuring Good Governance; so that the current leaders and the emerging future leaders should have to be ready to accept change and go accordingly.

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