The abrupt and brutal disruption by the COVID19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our life. The public services sector has been tasked to assuage these disruptions, while they also mitigate with disruptions they themselves face. Moreover, they are forced to not only deal with the spread of the virus, but to also manage its accompanied socio-economic fallout. Today, administrators are at the frontline to respond to this crisis and the accompanied uncertainty. This forces them to deal with situation quickly and effectively in a dynamic environment. With these thoughts, IIM Indore conducted a webinar on “Leadership in Public Administration in Pandemic” on September 18, 2020. Mr. V. Srinivas (IAS, Additional Secretary, Government of India and DG, National Center for Good Governance) and Prof. Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM Indore were the speakers for the webinar. The session was moderated by Prof. Prashant Salwan, Chair, Executive Education, IIM Indore.
Professor Rai enumerated the importance of leadership during the crisis and how it is different from leadership in regular times. He described five meta-dimensions that can help individuals become successful leaders amidst crisis. These include Artfulness, Diplomacy, Detachedness, Fairmindedness and Sagacity. “The artfulness to manage expectations and anticipate consequences can help a leader gain foresightedness. Similarly, a good leader needs to understand the difference between ‘listening to respond’ and ‘listening to understand’. This helps us separate our emotions from our judgement and instructs us to act only after due deliberation. It is also essential for a leader to be selfless and trustworthy, especially amidst a crisis. In such situations, it is essential to lead with example”, he said.
Mr. V. Srinivas discussed the changes in every sector and how the government took steps to deal with the pandemic. He noted that the right from the recruitment process to the execution of various schemes—everything under the government has changed. “The one thing that this global pandemic has taught us, is that there’s no shortcut to success. The government has successfully been able to balance the economy, provide all the services to the citizens even at grassroot levels, shifting from physical to virtual offices, ensuring digital security, maintaining transparency, developing digital healthcare facilities, etc. All this requires effective management and skills to handle the crisis”, he said. He also shared information about initiatives, like Arogya Setu health app, Vande Matram flight, etc., taken up by the government at central and state level which have proven to be an effective example of successful leadership during the crisis.
The session was attended by over 100 participants including faculty, staff and students of IIM Indore.