The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.
Facing the expected retirement of large numbers of federal executives, many agencies are creating leadership programs in an effort to develop qualified replacements. The retirement problem, however, is confounded by the apparent reality that in the government many supervisors, team leaders, managers, and executives appear to be failing in many dimensions of performance. Results of the US Office of Personnel Management's "2002 Federal Human Capital Survey" are a sobering reflection of how federal employees perceive their superiors:
* 36 percent indicated that leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment;
* 39 percent said that employees have a feeling of personal empowerment and ownership of work processes;
* 49 percent indicated that supervisors/team leaders are receptive to change;
* 43 percent indicated they hold their organization's leaders in high regard;
* 47 percent believe their organization's leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity;
* 44 percent believe complaints, disputes, or grievances are resolved fairly in their work unit; and
* 45 percent believe arbitrary action, personal favoritism, and coercion for partisan political purposes are not tolerated.
Quality of Leadership
If the quality of leadership is related to the ability of agencies to accomplish their missions, then these survey results and their implications should concern us. A more positive scenario would be numbers in the range of 80 percent, resulting in a more satisfied workforce and more effective public policy implementation. The current percentages suggest that developing extraordinary leaders for the federal civil service remains a compelling need.
The Brookings Institution's Center for Public Policy Education is taking on the challenge of developing the next generation of emerging leaders. Mastering the Art of Public Leadership (MAPL) is a leadership training program that was initiated in May 2003 with a cohort group of 15 participants from nine federal agencies. The program was carefully crafted to develop a cadre of reflective leaders who think and act strategically, diagnose problems within their organizations, drive change, and exercise fierce resolve in achieving mandated results.
Professionals in public service are frequently trained in technical fields such as engineering, law, accounting and finance, geography, biology, medicine, geography, soil science, and economics. Their strong technical background enables them to exercise judgment in their field of practice. However, this background may be of little use in the domain of leadership and management. Benjamin Disraeli has stated that, "A man always studying one subject will view the general affairs of the world through the colored prism of his own atmosphere." The MAPL program seeks to expand the capacity of professionals to supplement their technical education with new knowledge in the domain of leadership and organization studies.
This article describes the MAPL program that is …