Thursday, March 17, 2011

Principle based Leadership by Dr. Kiran Bedi

On the 15th of March, 2011, Indian Institute of Management Lucknow welcomed India’s first woman police officer, Kiran Bedi, to speak on Principle based Leadership; part of the Ethics workshop series being conducted for the 1st year students. This was Kiran Bedi’s 2nd visit to campus, the earlier one being for the Management Development Program (MDP) participants.
Amidst the roar that welcomed her on stage, she started off her speech by stating the key to being a centered leader – being vibrant and enthusiastic. To illustrate this, she cited an incident from her life: when in 1994 after being awarded the Ramon Magasaysay Award, she had come back to Tihar Jail and celebrated the award with the prisoners. Thus she asked everyone to make ‘Being at joy’ a habit.
She then proceeded to divide her speech into two parts – Her beliefs on leadership and the Gandhian ways to policing. According to her, defining the purpose of one’s life is the most important part of leadership. One should have his/her own identity, be creative and work with the people. So when that focus has come and identity is set in, one should shape according to the purpose and brand oneself. One should demonstrate excellence and constantly improve. She cited her example by narrating what all she did when she was first inducted into the police force. By the first few days, she had quickly realized that she was in a commanding position but the people under her were constables and police officers who had more than 20 years of experience. So the only way to learn and contribute was to go to the grassroots. So she did night patrolling, went to the courts so as to make her juniors her allies. Other senior officers frowned upon her but she stood by her act.
She always believed in constant self-audit and self-awareness. When she was on New Delhi traffic postings, she used to randomly choose an area a day where she would come to know of traffic blockages and visit that place without any notice. This was to keep her officers on toes and ultimately set in fear of constant improvement amongst them. This way she stressed on the fact that everyday the brand was built and trust was set in. She also stressed on the value for health – physical, mental and spiritual; also to be grateful and give full credit to the person who deserves it.
As part of Gandhism, she said that maintenance of transparency was very important. 60% of all corruption in India was in the corporate sector. This was bringing in a dis-leveled playing field. She said that one should put a face to policy and look at the poorest client when deciding upon them. And one should have patience – one should trust time rather than resent it. Gandhiji had said – “Don’t wait, be the change” and “Ethics is the oil of enterprise” even before industrialisation truly set in in India.
Finally in the Q&A session, she described her immediate goal which was the National Movement against corruption. This is going to be a nationally selected body which will work towards eradication of corruption by raising awareness and conducting dharnas etc. Do visit for more details.

Cross-posted on : IIM Lucknow Blog

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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