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Podcast: How can governments lead effectively in a crisis?

We speak to Matt Andrews about what makes good crisis management, good communication, and leadership in the public interest.

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Today’s episode is the first part of an extended interview with Matt Andrews, the Edward S Mason professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and head of the Building State Capability Programme at Harvard.

We take this opportunity to talk to one of the most influential thinkers in international development, taking a bird’s-eye view of the covid- 19 pandemic. The first part of the discussion, focuses on crisis leadership – a major theme of Matt’s work and teaching - and the subject of a series of online essays he has published since the start of Covid.

Matt delves deeper into the models and ideas of effective crisis management, including the difficulty for governments to move from what he calls a ‘control orientation’ to a ‘coordination orientation’. We explore the individual challenges of leadership in the public interest and discuss some of the public leaders around the world who have led and communicated most effectively.

We explore what some countries have got right, and Matt points out that successful cases do not fit into one category and successful methods vary. Common themes emerging are that speed of response was crucial, bold action and above all setting up mechanisms which can rapidly learn what works. He also cites humility of leadership and openness to ideas.