Even though the COVID-19 pandemic was being compared to a war, most political leaders were in denial about its seriousness during the early assault of the disease (Shao, 2020). But some leaders were pragmatic and modest, recognized the disease’s severity, and took it seriously. They acted fast and effectively in their communication with the public. Therefore, they successfully regulated the spread of the coronavirus, generating a unique synergy between government leaders and citizens in the process (Newton, 2020). For many leaders, the COVID-1pandemic is a crisis incomparable with any other in recent times. This paper examines Donald Trump and Narendra Modi’s Leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the perspective of COVID-19, America represents a case failure. Ex-President Donald Trump failed miserably in his attempts to handle the situation, hold people accountable, and provide accurate information about the virus. On several occasions, Trump claimed that the US government had it totally under control, and things would be fine (Shao, 2020). This is a sign of an overconfident leader. A brief examination of Trump’s remarks during the outbreak demonstrates that he significantly underestimated the magnitude of the crisis (Newton, 2020). In terms of attitude and leadership style, he resembles a self-centred populist and an authoritarian whose actions were driven more by personality than strategic considerations (Mendenhall et al., 2013). He pretended to be a wartime president, although he did not act in that role to bring the country together throughout the war. On the contrary, Trump’s actions and statements split governors, states, and citizens, downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, dismissed advice from experts, hence failing to inspire public confidence and trust in his administration.
Trump urged followers to stage massive rallies to “liberate” states (headed by Democratic governors) from stay-at-home directives. His campaigns became super-spreader events, where few attendees maintained physical distance or wore masks. Trump took nine days to impose a travel restriction on Chinese nationals. However, the measure was likely ineffectual due to Americans and British exempting from the condition (Shao, 2020). In addition, Bill Gates advocated for a statewide shutdown of the internet. The president not only disregarded such advice, but he also made potentially hazardous remarks, such as urging the use of untested pharmaceuticals and the use of cleaning agents to combat the virus, making the situation much worse.
India’s situation parallels that of the United States in that both leaders demonstrated ineptitude, making the populace incapable of trusting them. Numerous Indians place the burden for the country’s catastrophe squarely on the shoulders of one man: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At a global summit in January 2021, Modi stated that India had saved civilization by restricting the corona enough. Health Minister Jeffrey et al. (2021) declared in March that the virus was reaching its “endgame.” However, his government did little to prepare for the possibility of a much more dangerous and contagious strain of Covid-19 spreading across India and beyond.
Leaders engage others through teamwork, personal influence, and communication (Jeffrey et al., 2021), but this was not the case with Modi, as his Covid-19 task force did not meet for several months. He also did not bother to consult experts with high and extensive knowledge. To a significant extent, I believe Mr Modi’s arrogance and autocratic leadership style are to blame for the current state of affairs. At one time, authorities ignored scientific warnings that the Indians remained susceptible and lacked “herd immunity.”
Through looking at Donald Trump and Narendra Modi’s Leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, I recommend that the public be educated on the importance of choosing a leader who can reliably deliver. Despite many obstacles, the most influential leaders assume personal responsibility in a crisis (Mendenhall et al., 2013). They align the team’s emphasis, build new measures to track success, and foster a culture of accountability. Besides, I also recommend that as a leader, one should constantly listen to other people both in leadership and at lower levels. An unwillingness to listen to other people and professionals made Trump and Modi one of the worst leaders during the coronavirus pandemic. We can constantly listen to others around us, particularly those who work directly for us. Effective listening provides information and perspectives that strengthen your leadership potential (Mendenhall et al., 2013). Allowing yourself to be receptive to criticism and new ideas from your team can assist you in making decisions that are good for you and the people you lead.
In addition, leaders, even those in political positions, need to start practising evidence-based decision-making. Rather than rumours or myths, facts should be the rule of law in our world. As we have seen in the response of some governments to the COVID-19 crisis, decisions made in the absence of facts can have far-reaching consequences for the economy and society as a whole.
In conclusion, both Trump and Modi failed to show proper leadership in leading their country to tackle the pandemic. Both America and India reported high cases of COVID-19 and moderate mortality rates due to the poor behaviour of leaders. The case of these two countries would be different if these leaders demonstrated responsible leadership in crisis management. Similarly, the analysis of the leadership of the two leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that overconfidence and unwillingness to listen led to a leadership crisis.
Jeffrey Gettleman, Hari Kumar, Karan Deep Singh, and Sameer Yasir. 2021. India’s Covid-19 Crisis Shakes Modi’s Image of Strength. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/01/world/asia/india-covid19-modi.html
Mendenhall, M. E., Osland, J. S., Bird, A., Oddou, G. R., Maznevski, M. L., Stevens, M. J., & Stahl, G. K. (2013). Global leadership. New York: Routledge.
Newton, K. (2020). Government communications, political trust, and compliant social behavior: the politics of Covid‐19 in Britain. The Political Quarterly, 91(3), 502-513.
Shao, W., & Hao, F. (2020). Confidence in political leaders can slant risk perceptions of COVID–19 in a highly polarized environment. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 261, 113235.