Some leadership lessons we can learned and applied from JAGS McCartney.


Some leadership lessons we can learned and applied from JAGS McCartney.

It is a different era now, but we can still adapt and use his leadership methods.


Today, the Turks and Caicos Islands is celebrating the first and only named hero, the Most Excellent Right Honourable JAGS McCartney.  Hon. JAGS MCCartney became the first Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos on August 31st, 1976, at the age of 31. Unfortunately, he did not complete his full four-year term as he died in a plane crash on May 9th, 1980.

However, before and during his time in office as the leader of the Turks and Caicos Islands, he was very impactful, and this article is to discuss some of the leadership lessons that we can learned and applied from him.

Lesson #1 – Don’t give up.

Prior to the ministerial form of Government, Hon. JAGS McCartney contested in the 1972 elections, but he lost. However, he did not let that loss deter him from his goal of becoming a politician, so he ran again in 1976 as the leader of the newly formed PDM party. He won and became and became the first Chief Minister.

Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes a loss or a defeat to help you to become a better person so that you can become victorious the next time you try. No matter how many times you lost or didn’t get what you want but if you believe that is what you were called to do, then continue to pursue your dream.

Lesson #2 – Don’t lose touch with the people.

One of the reasons why some leaders fail is because they lose touch with the people. Even if you cannot provide the people with what they want or need but if you remain in touch and meet with the people, they will support you. Too many times we take people for granted thinking that their loyalty to the party or the company will automatically make you the leader again. However, despite the loyalty, some people would rather stay home than to come and support the leader. My understanding about JAGS is that he not only kept in contact with the people, but he also listened to the people. You see even if you cannot deliver what you promised, the fact that you kept in contact with the people will go a long way.

Lesson #3 – Unite the people.

JAGS is well known for trying to unite Turks and Caicos Islanders.  I don’t know where we went wrong but once you become the leader of the country, you are the leader for everyone. It should not be about just pleasing and satisfying the party supporters. This is a big mistake many leaders make.  We are too divided in this country. It used to be about which island you are from but now it is primarily about which party you support. We must put aside our political differences and come together as one people. We can do so by the Board appointments and the job appointments.

Lesson #4 – Sometimes you must be confrontational.

Some leaders do not want to be confrontational. However, sometimes, it takes confrontational to get things done. JAGS confronted the Governor, and he was not intimated by the Governor or the British. I am not saying you need to be always confrontational, but we cannot let people use you and abuse you. You need to let know where you stand, and this sometimes requires confrontation.  Some conflicts resolution requires confrontation. JAGS was a prime example of this. When a lady in South Caicos was about to lose her home, JAGS confronted the situation and got the issue resolved. Perhaps if he did not confront the situation, the lady may have lost her home.

Lesson #4 – Be patriotic.

JAGS was patriotic to the Turks and Caicos. He was not concerned about the salary and the prestige, but he wanted a better life for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Some of us are failing as leaders because we lack patriotism. If we are patriotic, we will challenge the status quo and we will ensure that we put the people of the Turks and Caicos first. We must believe in Turks and Ca\icos. Some of us have forgotten our own. We need to be proud of who we are.

Lesson #5 – Challenge the status quo.

You don’t have to accept everything as it is.  Sometimes you must challenge the status quo because your interest in your people may not be the same as the interest of others. If you find yourself in a position where your people are being short changed, don’t compromise yourself, challenge it.

Lesson #6 – Be a visionary.

JAGS was a visionary. He had a plan and he made efforts to achieve that plan. In the short term as Chief Minister, he had engaged talks with the British for political independence.  Today, many of us are saying we are not ready for independence and that is because we lack vision, or we are comfortable with what we have.

Another vision of JAGS was to ensure that Turks and Caicos Islanders occupy the top positions in Government and that was realized while he was alive and to this date, we continue to hold the top positions in Government.

Lesson #7 – Don’t think you are superior to people.

Whether this is true or not, I don’t know but there is a perception of superiority among some leaders. Remember it is the people that put you there and it will be the people that remove you. Never think you are better than people.  Don’t get caught up with the riches. Come down of your high horse and engage with the people.


Even though, it has been 43 years since the death of the Most Excellent Right Honourable JAGS McCartney, there is still so much we can learn from him. If JAGS did not die and he had won the elections in 1980, the Turks and Caicos would have been an independent nation. The ironic thing is no one, not even his own party is talking about or educating the public about independence.

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