Management failure not leadership

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Dr Abdus Sattar Abbasi

IT was sheer surprise to listen to the PM in December 2018, “I was not informed beforehand, I found out about the dollar hike through television”, everyone thought being new in the office it may happen and things will improve once he has better control as head of govt. But unusual events one after another now clearly demonstrate that current govt is subject to severe management failure not leadership. Leadership is about influencing others through a specific narrative; leadership has more to do with inspiring people than day-to-day implementations. It is evident in case of PTI that PM successfully influenced masses in 2018 to secure maximum seats for National Assembly of Pakistan. He continues to dominate public opinion about his position on different issues. In general, his followers still believe in his leadership abilities and expecting social and political turnaround in the country.
Running a government is entirely different job than political jargons such as provision of 10 million jobs and 5 million houses which attracted attention of common people, relevant experts were quite skeptical about these claims. However, followers of the PM were quite certain about realizing these dreams based on inspirations transmitted through his leadership qualities. People started believing to witness unprecedented cash inflows due to his credibility but even that didn’t happen. Anyhow, we have to look at some stark managerial failures of current government which terribly damaged reputation of the ruling party and raised serious questions on their abilities to successfully run day-to-day affairs. Reputation is the most valuable asset of any organization, PTI somehow unable to protect the reputation as an agent of change as people anticipated before last elections in the country. No one can predict the future precisely but keep in mind new situations are usually subject to novel challenges. If you lack in your homework, which was evident on replacement of Mr. Asad Umar as Finance Minister, then bells do alarm. Careful research and continuous evaluation of emerging circumstances can prevent rocky situations for people, political parties and the government. In democracies political parties cannot take an arrogant attitude toward public cynicism. Successful leadership track record cannot guarantee sustained success; they have to recognize long-term value of forging a more positive reputation. You don’t get many chances to fix the reputation, so do it right first time. Switching stances, popularly known as U-turns, as often as teenagers change fashions swiftly damage the reputation. While everybody deserves a second chance, no political party is entitled to unlimited attempts to salvage its reputation. There are several examples of switching stances by current government.
Health management of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif remained a mystery for the masses. It was utter astonishment to listen to the PM in August this year that allowing former Premier Nawaz Sharif to leave the country was a mistake and this government regrets the decision. He categorically admitted that government was pressurized into sending Nawaz abroad. According to PM Federal Cabinet had held a long debate over whether the government should let Nawaz leave on humanitarian grounds. He also said that one of the cabinet members actually wept on the health condition of ex-premier. These discussions were based on the feedback of health minister Punjab. She said in a news conference during October last year, “His [Nawaz] platelet count is 7,000 now. He is being administered a third mega unit after which the level will reach 25,000 again”.
She was aware of even internal bleeding that follows drop in platelet count, “There was bleeding from the gums when he brushed this morning but there is no cause for alarm. It’s under control”. It is another glaring example of mismanagement, how a career professional of healthcare sector with proven track record of being head of department in King Edward Medical University failed to verify and crosscheck all medical reports involving several renowned professionals in the medical board which recommended treatment of MNS abroad. How such a technical and scientifically sophisticated phenomenon could be manipulated, how a team of experts headed by amply qualified Health Minister could be wrong, why PM failed to manage the case appropriately, there are several questions which strike the mind and conclude that current government is subject to management failure not leadership.
Management is the process of reaching the set objectives through usage of human, physical and financial resources with the best possible combination of means and making the appropriate decisions while taking into consideration the external environment. The PM seems a failure on all these accounts, at least for now. Management is determined by the policies, structures, processes and cultural values in which it is practised and adapted to the context in which it seeks to achieve results. Current government badly failed to adapt to the ‘context’ and seems operating in isolation from common people of the country. Most important purpose of management is to make effective and efficient use of resources to achieve set objectives. PTI government severely disappointed in effective and efficient utilization of resources eg they even failed to facilitate Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan to procure sugar when it was available on a low price.
There are four functions of management including planning, setting performance objectives and deciding how to achieve them, government set objectives but could not determine how to achieve those objectives. The second function is organizing, arranging tasks, people and other resources to accomplish the task. It seems that entire team of the government remains busy throughout the day in preparing media rebuttals in evening shows with no concern for accomplishment of tasks for the betterment of people at large. The third function is leading, influencing people for specific direction; here we observe significant success of PTI in influencing the masses to a particular direction. However, the PM and his team terribly failed in the last function of Management i.e. controlling, which means measuring performance and taking appropriate actions to ensure desired results. Sugar crisis is blatant example of failure of control, despite inappropriate reporting of relevant bodies during 2019; the government was badly deceived by the same bodies this year again.
Spokespersons and Ministers categorically admit this fact that reports about sugar and wheat inventories presented in cabinet were not dependable. When it came to physical verification of sugar stocks, there was unusual almost threefold sale reported by sugar mills, meaning thereby a complete failure of control of the government on operational infrastructure of the country, which depicts lack of capacity and capability of current administration probably from top to bottom. Now a public announcement of gas shortage in winter; can anybody tell the PM that only announcement cannot serve the purpose, it is your responsibility to guard the interest of every individual living in the country and ensure provision of basic necessities such as sugar, wheat and gas to the masses with least possible expenditure. Kindly learn effective and efficient management of resources to provide bare minimum facilities to the people of Pakistan for a reasonable living.
—The writer is associate Prof & Head of CIF, COMSATS University Islamabad and Lahore Campus.

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