Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I told 22 Bright, Young Policewomen From Across the World

I was a visiting faculty on a ten-day program in Hanoi for women in police leadership. It was an Asia Region Law Enforcement Management Program, also called 'ARLEMP'.

This programme is a long-term partnership between the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security through the General Department of Police (GDP), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and RMIT University in Vietnam.

22 young women police officers attended the training workshop from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

For me it was a soulful experience. Each of them was bright, fit, healthy, enthusiastic, well educated, and in valuable positions in their respective countries. All rearing to lead and bond.

Professionally, they appeared to have been well trained and skilled at their work. But they were all curious to learn and know more.

I flew in there a day earlier, to sense their needs. So that when I addressed them I did not repeat what had already been shared with them.
Knowing the unique dilemma of marriage, motherhood and mobility these women face in their professional and personal lives, I decided to focus more on these issues.

Here is what I conveyed to them:

Be clear about who and what you want to be? And how far you wish to go? Whatever your choice, you are here to be happy and live your lives. Not be prisoners of compulsions!

With energy being limited, remember, you need to learn to manage it. You must say no to nonsense.

Learn to delegate, create and respect support systems, spend on buying time for chores you need not spend your energy on. Your wise management of energy will help you focus on areas which demand your total attention as senior cops, beyond being mothers, spouses and providers in unique cultural roles specific to your respective countries and backgrounds.

I shared with them also the mantra of the 3Ms:

The first M is to be the "Master of You".

To be your own master in professional and personal skills. For that you have to be adept at managing your resources. This implies being ever watchful of energy guzzlers, and your sources of recharge.

Be ever ready to learn, train and be mobile. Continue to upskill. Take whatever comes, ask for training support but learn as fast as you can on the job. Be prepared to deliver from day one and take responsibility too. No one will give you time. Therefore start your work from day one of your assignment and learn as you work.

Remember your first 10 days and then the next 20 days in any new responsibility will set the tone. As women you will be watched and scrutinized even more, by your bosses, peers, juniors and others.  
You will begin with being trusted, until you prove otherwise. This is a common perception women enjoy as professionals so far.

The second M is to be a "Member of the Community."

While you will be part of your professional community, that will be not enough. You have to step out of it and keep your world enlarged. This implies that you associate yourself with members of communities around causes dear to you. It can be education, children, women, senior citizens, environment, health, sports, adventure, or any other. This will keep you integrated with people and keep you connected beyond your police services.
The third M is to have a "Higher Meaning in Life."

Find a higher purpose in all you do. This is critical. Know why you are in policing. There has to be a higher purpose in your life, beyond the need to provide for yourself and your family.

It is this which will shape your spirit behind all your responses. Even where there is a higher challenge, you will see a higher purpose in it. Your responses will be not transactional but transformational. It is these qualities which will make you stand out and add value to your service. People will recognize the value addition you are making to the profession in tangible and intangible terms.

When we ran Delhi's most notorious prison we were not there to simply to run a prison, but to make sure people leaving the prison would not come back.

Similarly, in my police assignment whenever we arrested a person for a crime he had committed, we had to know the cause of that his committing the crime. We then worked backwards to see how do we as police officers with feet on the ground, could improve our services so that others can be checked, and this person once released, does not offend again.

Finding a higher purpose is the key to leadership. The real meaning of your position and the kind of influence you will exercise will set you apart from average performers. This will reaffirm faith that women cops are trustworthy.

After I finished speaking, they all gave me a warm hug, which I tweeted about too.

The quality of leadership training I saw being given to the Asian group is the kind regularly needed across ranks for 1,05,325 women cops in the Indian Police, both at the national and state levels. Coming together time to time as inter-units, in vertical interactions. This will do the service and the nation a lot of good.

Departments need to not only train more but also address support systems. Women cops really need to ensure that being mothers does not lead to self-denial of higher opportunities, as well as hard-earned experience to serve society.

This is one issue which I have found entirely unaddressed anywhere yet. But it will have to be addressed if women cops are to be enabled to realize their best potential for an inclusive safer society.

(Kiran Bedi is the first woman to have joined officer ranks of Indian Police Service. Recipient of Magsaysay Award (1994) for police and prison reforms, she has also worked as a UN police advisor. A tennis champion, she earned a PhD from IIT Delhi and is a Nehru Fellow. She's founded many NGOs and is the author of several books.)
Story First Published: June 09, 2015 11:03 IST