Currently, the majority of IAS officers occupy a position of leadership from day one. From the secretariat to the Head of Department, every rank is responsible for a team of people. It necessitates that only those people are put into the role who are equipped with the right leadership qualities or have the potential to be so in the coming years.
Right now, the selection to civil services rank requires clearing the mother of all competitive tests. The exam tests a person on:
· Analytical skill
· General awareness
· Subject knowledge
· Written communication skills
The entrance exam is more a test of an aspirant’s ability to crack it than anything else. While one can’t deny that it is a good judge of a person, it is not complete. The role of an IAS officer takes requires more than that. They need to be able to make a cohesive team out of disparate people and motivate them to work together for a considerable time. Moreover, verbal communication skills are equally crucial as written. Lastly, ethical behaviour is vital.
The UPSC conducted exam does not test any of these abilities of an IAS aspirant. This is jarring because everywhere else, all these capabilities are tested. Corporates have utilised tools to assess a person’s leadership, ethics and a positive attitude, then why cannot CSE do it too.
But before we dive into how IAS officers can be honed into perfect leaders; we need to determine the essential qualities a civil servant must-have.
· The very name of the position explains the first quality every IAS should have – administrative. From the first day of the job, a civil servant is required to handle and manage offices under him or her and the people that come with it. Administration of the district they serve becomes the critical role.
· With the responsibility of different people and different offices comes the task of decision making. Therefore, the second skill every IAS officer should have is quick and correct decision-making. They should be able to:
o Navigate through tricky solutions
o Evaluate all circumstances and factors
o Include every stakeholder in a decision
o Come up with a solution that leads to a win-win situation for all
· Finally, an essential quality of an IAS officer is leadership. Administration and decision-making can only help so far. If one wants to bring about change for the good, leading people is necessary. An officer who leads exceptionally well becomes a role model not just for junior officers but civilians too. Others follow in the footsteps of the great leader and cumulative effect occurs.
How does one ensure that these qualities are ingrained in the IAS ranks?
· The first step is changing the way recruitment occurs in civil services. We need to test the candidates on leadership and ethical qualities too.
· Another method is to rope in civil service coaching centres. Presently, after an individual clears the CS exam, they undergo in-service training. Why can they not be trained before passing the exam? For instance, thetop 10 IAS Coaching Centres can include ethics and leadership as part of their curriculum. Instead of preparing the student just to pass the competitive exam, the centres can also work on teaching them skills required after they become IAS officers.
It is not just the coaching institutes that can hone leadership, administrative, ethical and other skills. The training period can be appropriated for the same too. To do so, past officers who have proven their worth can be put to task. When young people see mentors, who upheld values while forging a bright career, they are motivated to do the same. These ex-IAS officers can also be utilised by coaching centres to teach aspirants.
· One more step that can be taken is a transformation of attitude. When you inculcate that ethical behaviour is mandatory, not optional, it becomes part of daily life. Officers can be assessed and reviewed in these vital skills. Based on how they perform, promotion and incentives can be imparted.
The world of today is changing drastically and quickly. We need leaders in a position of power more so now than before. It is therefore imperative that every IAS officer has the qualities of leadership while upholding morals and positive attitude.