You are the heading the rescue operations in an area affected by severe natural calamity, thousands of people are rendered homeless and deprived of food, drinking water and other basic amenities. Rescue work has been disrupted by heavy rainfall and damaged to supply routes. The local people are seeding with anger against the delayed limited rescue operations. When your team reaches the affected area, the people there heckle and even assault some of the team members. One of your team members is even severely injured. Faced with this crisis some team member pleads with you to call off the operations freeing threats to their life. In such trying circumstances, what will be your response? Examine the qualities of a public servant which will be required to manage the situations.(UPSC GS-4 Mains 2019)

This is a case to demonstrate Crisis Leadership. The situation is in demand of leadership skills that can find solutions where there is lack of cooperation from public, the supplies are disrupted, and the team is demotivated. I am faced with competing priorities to undertake rescue operations, manage anger of victims and keep the team motivated amidst crisis.

 The problem is that all these three goals are interrelated and posed as challenge simultaneously. Without the team being motivated, the rescue work cannot be effective. Without stopping of manhandling, the team won’t be motivated. Without the rescue being effective and visible, the anger of victims won’t be manageable. Hence, all three need to be dealt with simultaneously.

 Still, it is action of the team that can cut some ice with the victims. It is the tangible hope that administration is in work that can appease people. Only rhetoric will not pacify them.

 Following are the qualities needed to manage the situation:

 1. Dedication to public services to muster up all resources and will to solve the problem 2. Presence of mind and ability to find innovative solutions

 3. Leadership Qualities for leading by example, acting as role model, inspiring and instilling confidence and show motivational capacity to energize the team

 4. Compassion towards victims of the calamity

 5. Emotional Intelligence to not let anger, frustration etc. to deviate me from work at hand and to understand frustration of victims and empathize with them

 Response in order:

 1. Motivating team to put rescue operations at top priority and ignore for a while anger of victims.

 This is because till the people see that administration is in action to save and help them, their anger will not come under control. Here, team members need to put service before self and bear with and ignore manhandling. This is where values like compassion, dedication to public service and emotional intelligence will be out to test.

 2. First securing women, elderly and children will be my priority because they are the ones who are most vulnerable. When people will see their children being saved by the administration, it is possible that they will come in cooperation.

 3. Shifting dislocated people to a makeshift arrangement to take advantage of economies of scale.

 Community resilience is tested at times of crisis. People at one common place can be supplied basic amenities more easily. It will also be administratively easy to manage people at one common place.

 4. Restoration of basic supplies like food, water and medicine by roping in Special Forces if needed.

 5. Contacting superior authorities to update them about situation, seeking guidance and asking for help.

 6. Roping in civil society to help in rescue operations.

 7. Asking for able bodied youth to help administration in the operations.

 8. Once emergency situation gets normalized, restoration of normal life by relocating people to their original places and undertaking reconstructions.

 Qualities required for managing situation

 Emotional Intelligence

 The official needs to keep his temper in control. He must not allow his emotions get between his duty. When all these conditions are fulfilled, he/she can handle the situation better.


 The official must be able to understand the emotional aspect of the incident and be sympathetic to their cause. By being empathetic, he/she can convince the public to co-operate with the authorities. This can also prevent unruly behaviour by public or other officials towards each other.

 Leadership Skills

 Tough situation tests the leadership qualities that an official possess. He/she must not only be a task master but must also be ready to indulge in the work and lead the team. This will motivate his/her subordinates.

 course of action

 The safety of the public as well as the official is the first priority. Considering the injury of the official, he/she can be sent back for the treatment, but calling off the operation is out of the question.

 I will try to reduce the public anger by convincing them to co-operate. For this I will talk with the community elders and tell them the reason for the delay and will promise to provide all assistance.

 Once the community members are convinced and team of officials are safe, then the operation can be continued. This will require my indulgence too.

 I will start the basic operation which requires urgent implementation, starting with transferring affected to safe place and providing them with basic items like food, water, medicine, clothes etc.

 A back up team containing professional disaster management experts will be sought as fast as possible. Till the weather improves, me along with the officials will stay with the community for taking care of the needs as well as a symbolic gesture of support.

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