Magazine article Government Finance Review

Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders: Many Public Organizations Are Facing Leadership Turnover of 50 Percent or Higher in the Next Few Years. Unless We Develop Talented Replacements, Our Organizations Face the Very Real Risk of Failing to Achieve Our Missions, and Our Potential

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders: Many Public Organizations Are Facing Leadership Turnover of 50 Percent or Higher in the Next Few Years. Unless We Develop Talented Replacements, Our Organizations Face the Very Real Risk of Failing to Achieve Our Missions, and Our Potential

Article excerpt

Last year 1 wrote about how the graying of our population is creating a workforce crisis. While some government agencies have yet to feel the impact of baby boomer retirements, it's inevitable. As 80 million baby boomers ease into retirement, the entire nation will face a worker shortage. Government will have to deal with this crisis before the private sector because, on average, public sector employees are older than our private sector counterparts.

A state government executive recently remarked that not only is his state's workforce "old"--the average age is 47--but the average age of his new recruits is 41. In another case, a client said she is concerned that about 25 percent of her managers will be eligible to retire soon. While we applaud her actions to plan for this turnover, her city is actually in relatively good shape--many public organizations are facing leadership turnover of 50 percent or higher in the next few years. Unless we develop talented replacements, our organizations face the very real risk of failing to achieve our missions, and our potential.

That's the bad news. The good news is that many agencies are already putting in place the systems and practices to develop tomorrow's leaders. While the HR department may facilitate and coordinate these activities, it is the line managers who are shaping and driving leadership development strategies. This article examines the findings from a recent study on public sector leadership development.

THE RESEARCH

CPS Human Resource Services is conducting a series of research studies on how government agencies at all levels are preparing to compete in the war for talent. I highlighted the results of our first study, The Aging-and-Retiring Government Workforce: How Serious Is the Challenge? What Are Jurisdictions Doing About It?, in my earlier articles. A new report, just released, is Building the Leadership Pipeline in Local, State and Federal Government. We sponsored these studies in cooperation with organizations such as the International City/County Management Association, the Council of State Governments, and others.

To find out what governments at the local, state, and federal levels are doing to ensure that they will have a supply of experienced talent for the future, we talked to practitioners, academies, journalists, and other "thought leaders." This led to interviews with officials in 35 public agencies that seemed to have leading-edge programs. We then narrowed this group down to the 15 federal, state, and local agencies highlighted in the report. These organizations are taking aggressive steps to ensure they have talented and experienced leaders, now and in the future.

As we analyzed the interview data and the individual case studies, two approaches to building the leadership pipeline emerged. We describe them as the "just-in-time" (JIT) approach, and the "integrated" approach.

THE JUST-IN-TIME APPROACH

Just-in-time agencies develop leaders right before (or right after) they move into leadership positions. As Exhibit 1 shows, JIT organizations use a variety of practices to manage talent and grow leaders. Sometimes, these practices are built around a formal leadership development (usually training) program. JIT agencies may also have succession plans and a competency model that identifies the key leadership knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors needed for long-term success.

The JIT approach has limits. We compare the just-in-time approach to the inoculations a traveler receives just before going on a trip to an exotic destination. JIT agencies, through programs like training, try to inject new leaders with the "leadership serum." This metaphor may seem like a stretch, but it makes sense. The JIT model usually employs specific, limited tactics, like training or mentoring programs, that focus on a relatively small segment of the workforce (e.g., middle managers who are most likely to be promoted to senior management, or brand new managers). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.