Values, vision, proposals and networks: using ideas in leadership for human development: The approach of Mahbub ul Haq

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Leadership is a matter that social scientists often are ambivalent about, but is important in knife-edge' situations and when people choose direction within wide-open possibilities. "Good leaders" need contexts that stimulate and discipline them, good "followers"/ collaborators, and ability to use good luck. The paper explores the work of Mahbub ul Haq, in relation to some ideas about factors that affect initiatives for social justice through new ideas: (1) ideas about values can be amongst the key ideas; leaders may express and embody inspiring values; (2) ideas about values may have little impact if not embodied in practical frameworks, methodologies and proposals; (3) ideas have real impact when they give a way of seeing, a vision; (4) ideas do little good if not propagated in places and ways accessible to significant audiences. Haq's methods as a leader for social justice included: a) lessons he learnt from the failure of his Basic Needs work at the World Bank (concerning lack of institutional protection; lack of a comprehensive vision; lack of a bridge to the mainstreams of economic policy and development policy); b) his operation as a wordsmith, providing appealing labels for big ideas, including an accessible value basis; c) his exemplification of two fundamental reorientations: "joined-up thinking", analysis not restricted within the boxes of "national economies"; and "joined-up feeling", global sympathy, concern and commitment; and d) a series of concrete, visionary proposals (like the Human Development indices, the 20/20 principle and the MDGs), which converted old talk about "progressive realization" of economic and social rights into practical agendas and tools to try to keep leaders accountable.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

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SeriesISS working papers. General series


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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