Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

KMT needs to develop a new type of leadership

By Ku Er-teh 顧爾德

During the recent conference held by the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) "strategic discourse unit" in Kaohsiung, participants were more interested in reviewing the KMT's past defeat than discussing its future development. This shows that the depressive doldrums the party's leaders sank into after their election failure have upset its grassroots. The remedy is quite simple: the party's reform should focus on "rejuvenation" to be able to react more rapidly and with greater innovation.

Similar ideas were put forth following the previous election defeat in 2000. Back then,

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) demonstrated his resolve to

win the nation back. So why

are party members still mulling

over the same old questions?

Ever since the election defeat in March, the loudest calls have been to allow the younger generation more say in the party. After the election defeats in both 2000 and 2001, Lien gave his

full backing to the party's "youth project." Last Friday, he had his 69th birthday, and the party still has a long way to go before it achieves rejuvenation.

Perhaps Lien is willing but unable due to an absence of "execution" skills, something he accused the DPP of lacking in last year's election campaign .

Execution is also the title of the US bestseller by Larry Bossidy, et al, which states that good management resides in being a "doer," and not just a "thinker." In fact, Lien's criticism of the DPP and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is all talk and no action.

Execution does not mean personally overseeing every-thing, which does not come naturally to Lien, nor does it mean denying the importance of innovation. It entails knowing how to bring an idea or plan to fruition. More importantly, it emphasizes cultivation of talent and personnel flow. Considering the size of the organizations he is responsible for, no CEO or party chairman can run the whole show by himself. Therefore, knowing how to effectively use people is an indispensable skill for leaders.

It is not a mysterious leadership characteristic. Rather, it is a skill that should be applied to the whole system. With no such skill inside a party, a talent gap may occur.

The KMT often flaunts its depth of experience in government, mocking DPP members' relative lack. However, let us take a close look at how the KMT has nurtured talent over the past 50 years. Most KMT leaders were actually technocrats trained in similar fields. With the exception of the track leading from the Taipei City mayor's office to the central government via the provincial governorship of Taiwan, few of the technocrats had any experience in other fields.

It wasn't until under the leadership of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) that people such as Lien, Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Chen Lu-an (陳履安), Fredrick Chien, (錢復) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were given more all-round training. Indeed, Lee was very subjective in choosing these people during his presidency, but we cannot deny his efforts to nurture leadership, compared to the obedient technocrats cultivated by the "two Chiangs."

Lien no longer has sufficient political resources or is in a position to cultivate talent as Lee was. As a result, all of the KMT's legislator-at-large seats have been given to the party's senior heavyweights, as if the Legislative Yuan is a political rest home. In the future, the party may have fewer seats for legislators at large, and its younger generation may once again lose the opportunity to hone their leadership skills.

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