Is It Time for Public Leadership to Reinvent Itself?

The world is changing rapidly, and so are the challenges for public leaders. From climate change and growing inequality to political polarization and public health crises, the problems facing society today are complex and multifaceted. The public faces challenges and guides the community through them. But will the existing learnings and methods of public leadership be enough?

From the pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine conflict to environmental catastrophes, there’s a lot to tackle. These challenges require transformational ideas different from the ones we’ve employed for years. It’s time to question the status quo by going back to the basics and relearning from the wise leaders of Ancient India. We need young public leaders with wisdom, charisma, innovative mindset and mindfulness. These leaders will not be afraid of any crisis and will face it head-on with well-informed decisions. 

If you flip through the ancient Indian scripture, you will find a lot of knowledge about being a great leader. It elegantly describes public leadership and how important it is in order to gain control of your mind, walk on the right path and follow the truth before battling any conflicts. There are plenty of such learnings in our Indic scriptures, like Lord Rama’s knowledge of Vedas, the circle of influence and even focusing on agriculture, trade and more. 

When modern public leaders apply these learnings, they’ll realize that external skills are incomplete without scriptural ideologies and experiences. 

However, innovative public leadership is not just about individual leaders or models. It also requires a fundamental shift in how we think about leadership, and the best way to achieve that is to build institutions that can reinvent leadership and educate the youth. We should nurture ‘self-aware’ public leaders, Indic knowledge, traditions and systems of thought.

It’s necessary that they move away from the idea of leadership as a solitary, top-down process, and towards a more collaborative, inclusive, mindful and participatory approach. 

Public leadership needs to be more agile and adaptive to change. The problems facing society today are dynamic and constantly evolving, and public leaders need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to new challenges. This requires leaders who can formulate new solutions. 

Public leadership also needs to be thought of from a technological perspective. With ChatGPT and more AI-based platforms emerging, public leaders need to think one step ahead of new inventions, and put together plans for a new era of working styles and advancement. Technology’s progress may also raise concerns about privacy, security and bias and future issues, for which public leaders need to prepare themselves. They need to be aware of any risks and be able to harness the benefits of technology while mitigating its negative impacts.

Public leadership needs to adapt and reinvent to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We also need to fundamentally rethink and approach leadership and create a more just, sustainable, and prosperous future for all.

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