The Nexus Between Leadership and Human Capital Development

The Nexus Between Leadership and Human Capital Development

It is a truism, that leadership is often “the game changer” in the affairs of societies particularly when comparisons needs to be made on how well societies have fared over a period of time. To corroborate this, a native African proverb avers that “credit must be equitably given to the leadership either positively or negatively for a metaphorical desert land that turns into a thriving city and vice versa”

Leadership is conceptual yet practical. As a concept, leadership connotes someone or a system that drives, organizes, decides man and materials for the general /common good or wellbeing of the society. In other words leadership entails inspiring others to pursue the leader’s vision within the parameters or criterion which the leader has set, to the extent that it becomes a shared vision and a shared success. Leadership could be seen as a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective.

History tells us that ever since society decided to embrace the “social contract” by choosing those to lead them in one way or the other, there has been a need to institute or develop a method through which leaders are chosen or made. This need and the development of a method of choosing leaders represent the interphase between politics and leadership. And since leadership is derived from within the people, it means there must be people’s participation for the right type of leadership to emerge.

From this background, leadership that emerges from within the people is expected to deliver on certain deliverables. To Wit; the leadership must be imbued with vision on where it wants the people to go and how the people will get there. A crucial vision which leadership should be imbued with is that which seeks to elevate and emancipate the people, both physically (Body) and spiritually (Mind) such that people become easy to lead, and also assures them of a guaranteed future. This is where leadership has a tremendous role to play in human capital development.

What then is human capital development?

We can hardly talk of human capital development without talking of human capital. Generally, human capital refers to the stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity embodied in a population, for that population to perform optimally. In other words, the collection of resources including knowledge, talents, skills, abilities, experience, intelligence, training, judgment and wisdom possessed individually and collectively by individuals within a population. These resources are the total capacity of the people that represents a form of wealth which can be directed to accomplish the goals of the nation or state.

The nexus or link between policy and human capital is what determines the development of human capital. The role of policy in the development of human capital can really not be underestimated. Policy for the purpose of this essay can be described as the basic principles by which a government is guided. In other words the declared objectives that a government seeks to achieve and preserve in the interest of the national community.

In formulating policies, governments or states needs to have a clear idea of what type of society they envision. It is this idea that guides and propels them to set certain frameworks in the policy that target or has a direct bearing to the lives of the people. Policy formulation involves developing strategies for dealing with policy issues which have been placed on an agenda. Policy formulation takes both the effectiveness and the viability or acceptability of proposed actions into account. Effectiveness refers to valid, workable strategies that address the situation, while acceptability refers to those strategies which are more likely to be put into action.


close-up-of-children-in-primary-school-south-africa-725x544-300x225 The Nexus Between Leadership and Human Capital Development

Since the people/population, in other words human resources are one of the most important resources, governments must explore or find ways in which such resources could be utilized optimally and one of the ways these are done is through human capital development. Hence, for progressive and development conscious governments, public policy should be tailored towards human capital development.

Governments (Policy Makers) the world over are beginning to acknowledge the critical role of increased investment in human capital, because a strong human capital base complements other investments and policies to boost productivity and economic progress. Most importantly, the confluence of rapid technological change, globalization and economic liberalization otherwise known as the New World Order has prompted governments (Policy Makers) in most societies to prioritize human capital development. The consequence(s) of human capital development can be quite manifold. A society with a high human capital development invariably has a higher percentage of its people highly skilled. Skills affect people’s lives, economic and social development in various ways albeit in a positive manner. When skills also abound in a society, the lines of inequality are blurred and social mobility is enhanced. As a matter of fact, empirical evidences show that investing in human capital is the single most effective way of not just promoting growth in the society but also of distributing its benefits more fairly. Also research shows that investing in human capital is relatively cheaper in the long run.

However, investing in human capital, by governments and policy makers is often faced with its own challenges.  This is because human capital development policies require coherence and cooperation across all areas and levels of government and achieving this cooperation and ensuring it is fruitful is often a challenge to governments and policy makers. However in general terms, the responsibility for the transformation of raw human resource into a highly productive human resource otherwise known as human capital development still rests firmly on the shoulders of government albeit with support from the private sector. But the framework through which this is achieved is still a government function. Through this framework, it is expected that policies are focused towards promotion of human development, and subsequently economic development. Human capital is the backbone of economic development in every society. For instance, government may offer higher education to people at no cost. The government realizes that the knowledge people gain through education helps develop a society and leads to economic growth within the society.

The foundation of public policy is composed of national constitutional laws and regulations. Further components include both judicial interpretations and regulations which are generally authorized by legislations. Public policy is considered strong when it solves problems efficiently and effectively, serves justice supports governmental institutions and policies and encourages active citizenship. Now, for public policy to be meaningful it should be broadly targeted at human capital development, because of its multiplier effect on the society. It should also be specifically targeted at the indices or indicators of human capital development, otherwise known as the Human Capital Index (HDI).

The HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions or areas of Public Health, Public Education, and Public Income (Decent Standard of Living). The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth, the education dimension by mean years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and more, and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age. The income dimension or standard of living dimension is measured by the gross national income per capita. It is public policy that drives investments or attention into these areas. When a government through its policies invests massively or drives investments in the educational sector it inadvertently raises the literacy level, and also imbues the general populace with skills thus improving the quality of lives over a period of time. When public policy encourages massive investments in the health sector, ultimately the society benefits in the long run, as such things as mortality and morbidity are reduced to the barest minimum. Ditto for when public policy is geared towards improving the standard of living, the society benefits in the long run.

Hence the HDI can be used to question national policy choices asking how two countries with the same level of national income can end up with different human capital development levels. Consequently the social and economic dimensions of a people are based on the health of the people, their level of education attainment and their standard of living, which relies on how well Public Policy is formulated.

In conclusion the nexus between policy in general and public policy in particular, shows that the building of a society depends upon the development of the people and the robustness of such policies that drives development, especially in the key areas of education (literacy) health and increase in standard of living. The importance of the human factor in attaining meaningful socio-economic development in any given society cannot be understated. Human Capital Development is therefore associated with investment in man and his development and one of the biggest factors which drive this investment is government.

Since there is a general consensus that human beings represented by the people are the active agents and the most critical elements in National Development a society unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people and utilize them  effectively will be unable to develop anything else. It therefore behooves on public policy formulators often times represented by governments, to formulate appropriate policies that will harness, develop and utilize these skills and knowledge in people for the general good of the society.


An essayist and public affairs analyst  tweets via @babsiwalewa


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