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Improving the leadership and management ability of communal key leaders in new countryside construction in the Northwest

(LLCT) - New countryside construction is a mission of the entire Party, people, political system in socio-economic development all over the nation. In 2015, countryside construction program had been active for five years. Its achievements and limitations have been initially evaluated. The countryside and agriculture have made some progresses. The countryside has changed rapidly, the material and spiritual life of the people have been improved, a modernized and decent countryside has been created. These achievements are the product of the efforts of the whole political system and the people’s creativity.

At the 12th National Congress, the Party continued to emphasize “developing agriculture and rural economy associated with new countryside construction”(1) and that “It is necessary to improve the leadership and management ability of leaders and managers from the centre to localities. Strengthen and improve the operation of steering committees and executive agencies at all levels. Effectively implement restructure and new countryside construction”(2).

1. Leadership and management ability of communal key leaders in new countryside construction

Ability is the combination of an individual’s unique attributes with the requirements of a specific activity ensuring the effectiveness of that activity(3). It is the combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes(4). Accordingly, the leadership and management abilities of communal key leaders in the Northwest are reflected in the following aspects:

Regarding knowledge, key leaders have the understanding, cognition and evaluation of problems, developmental tendencies, opportunities, and challenges. To make new countryside construction successful, leaders must understand the Party’s guidelines and State’s policies and regulations in new countryside construction, as well as the reality and the customs and traditions of minor ethnicities under their direct management.   

Their skills are reflected in the methods they use to deal with different situations. They must be quick-witted in gathering and processing both positive and negative information that may affect their leadership and management. The Northwest holds a strategic position in national defence and security. It is where hostile forces usually take advantage of the limited awareness of the minority people. They embroil and incite them to oppose the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies. Therefore, communal key leaders and managers must be able to check, supervise and predict the situation and the suitable methods to propagate and mobilize them to cooperate. The new countryside construction involves different criteria, so it requires regular supervision from leaders and managers and the participation of the communal political system.  

Attitude is reflected in the behaviour of communal key leaders and managers toward their seniors, their counterparts, and their juniors. This includes representatives chosen by the people in the Northwest. Leaders must put the needs of the people before their own. This attitude is reflected in their spending time understanding people’s desires and expectations, and in listening to their ideas to promote initiative, activity, and creativity. This attitude will increase the effectiveness of the leadership and improve the lives of the people, encouraging them to believe in the Government’s leadership.

At the moment, over 50% of communal leaders and 77% of communal public servants meet the required standard, and 44% of non-specialized officers (vice presidents of organizations, party secretaries, village heads,...) are trained. For the past several years, the Party and State have carried out many policies to train and improve the quality of key leaders at the grassroots levels in the Northwest. Between 2011 and 2015 in Hoa Binh province, 11,750 out of 26,192 officers of different levels were trained, and 71 out of 213 (33%) ethnic officers were sent abroad for training. Between 2014 and 2015 in Yen Bai province, there were eight training classes for 534 learners, 292 of whom were of ethnic minority groups (account for nearly 55%). Additionally, 4,881 people, 1,464 from minority groups (account for nearly 30%), were supplemented with state management, professional  knowledge, and skills(5). However, training and improvement of professional knowledge for grassroots cadres is still inadequate because very few communal officers have received a university education (5.87%)(6). Of 48,200 ethnic minority officers, 45.7% have received secondary education, 18.7% have received primary education and only 1.9% have gone to college or university(7).     

 Realities have pointed out that officers of ethnic minorities - especially those from villages and hamlets in north-western provinces - still have limited professional knowledge and poor leadership and management abilities. Therefore, they are sometimes passive or vague when handling issues that arise while managing new countryside construction.

A June 2016 survey of four North-western provinces - Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, and Yen Bai - determined the basic difficulties for grassroots staffs in new countryside construction(8).

The greatest difficulty is the professional ability of the local staff in the management of new countryside construction - 67.4% of the local staff is below the required standard. Among the communal key leaders and managers from ethnic minority groups, only 1.9% have college or university education, which leads to inefficiency in new countryside construction. The second difficulty is the staff’s inability to solve potential problems in countryside construction (65.7%). Other difficulties include loose cooperation in the implementation of the programme (51.7%), lack of skill and experience (50%), and an unclear sense of responsibility and lack of determination among the managing staff (28%). After these past five years, new countryside construction remains ineffective and unstable. Grassroots-level staff are unprofessional and do not meet the demands of the programme, which leads to their confusion in solving problems.

These shortcomings prove that it is necessary to improve the professional leadership and management ability of the staff involved in new countryside construction. It is also important to improve their understanding of laws, heighten their morality and prestige, and train them to solve everyday problems.      

2. Solutions to improve leadership and management abilities among communal key leaders in new countryside construction

To make the grassroots leadership and management in the northwest effective, communal key staff need to clearly understand Party and State laws and policies about economic management, ethnicity, religion, population, environment, security and specific characteristics of each region.

A number of steps can be taken to initiate this process.

First, raise awareness about the significance and importance of the new countryside construction programme. This will improve the effectiveness of communication presented to executive committees and party members about the importance of farmers and the role of the Party in inspiring people to build the countryside. Increase communication about the new countryside construction programme in North-western communes and districts, especially in those with high populations of ethnic minorities or especially difficult situations.  

Second, increase awareness of the Party’s and State’s resolutions and policies concerning new countryside construction. This will heighten the role and responsibility of programme heads in communes and villages, and the local staff and party members involved in the implementation process.    

Third, organize classes to train leadership and management skills for communal key leaders to be used in the implementation of the programme. Provide them with the knowledge and skills to deal with different situations related to the specific customs and traditions of the local people so that they can flexibly guide the fields they directly manage.

Fourth, focus on human resources planning, train the local staff to be potential grassroots leaders. Prioritize choosing staff from ethnic minorities who have strong political motivation, virtuous characters, and a thorough understanding of the customs, traditions, and languages of ethnic minorities to maximize the resources in new countryside construction.

Fifth, prioritize education and training policies in the education and training of grassroots staff. Executive committees and governments in North-western provinces need to regulate their leaders and staff to determine what they are lacking (professional knowledge, management competence, political understanding, leadership skills, etc.). After evaluation, prioritized education and training programs should be established to standardize and improve the quality of the staff.

Sixth, increase each province and district’s leadership, supervision, and inspection to timely discover programme shortcomings. Supervision and inspection from communal executive committees and people’s councils should cover economy, construction, social culture, national defence and security to prevent violations, especially in the mobilization, management and use of resources. Increase supervision and inspection of the communal steering committee and increase the responsibility of steering committee leaders. Enforce democratic principles at grassroots level to create consensus among staff, party members and community members.

____________________

(1) CPV: Documents of the 12th National Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p.92.

(2) Anh Minh, “Agricultural Restructuring In Relation to the New Countryside Construction”, People Online Newspaper, April 2, 2016.

(3) Nguyen Quang Uan, General Psychology, Vietnam National University, Hanoi Press, 2010, p.178.

(4) Chung-Herrera, B., Enz, C.A., & Lankau, M.J. (2003), Grooming future hospitality leaders: A competencies model, Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, pp.17-25.

(5) Ministry of Education and Training, Statistics of Education and Training in the school year 2014-2015, Hanoi, 2015.

(6) Cao Anh Do, “Improving the quality of education and training for the officers of ethnic minorities to develop the Northwest region,” tapchicongsan.org.vn, November 2, 2015. 

(7) Tran Quynh, “Concentrating on solving the urgent issues of the mountainous area,” http://daihoi12.dangcongsan.vn

 

(8) Survey results from June 2016 of the Ministry Project in 2016: “The role of the grassroots political system in new countryside construction in North-western provinces nowadays”.

Dr. Tran Nhat Duat

Institute of Leadership and Public Policy,

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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