Magazine article Public Management

Public Leadership: The Profession We All Depend On: Essential Practices to See You Through

Magazine article Public Management

Public Leadership: The Profession We All Depend On: Essential Practices to See You Through

Article excerpt

On a day-to-day basis, public leaders are skilled at providing services to other public organizations and to the residents they serve. Most importantly, they understand their jobs, not in terms of titles or position descriptions, but in terms of "who depends on me."

Public leaders are also adept at getting others to understand who depends on them and for what. They work with numerous stakeholder groups to continuously innovate in the delivery of public services and meet challenges.

Also essential for any leader is the ability to engender trust--particularly public leaders. How they meet commitments and follow through even when things are difficult or uncomfortable is paramount to their ability to lead.

Here are other practices essential to public leadership:

1. Leaders don't rely on hearsay or anecdotal evidence. They base their decisions on the collection and analysis of hard data gathered from end users or customers and front-line workers to get a clear and honest picture of the current reality before they begin constructing a plan for what is needed. When leaders make decisions they also take into account both the intended and unintended consequences and make plans to manage both.

2. When leaders analyze the shortcomings of a current situation, they not only give people time to tell their war stories, but also know how to move the individuals quickly to a point where they are describing what they want and how they are going to get there.

3. Leaders rely on systems thinking and mapping to help their teams figure out where and how to leverage their investment of limited resources. Systems mapping is a drawing of an existing system that helps people see the complex cause-and-effect relationships that are part of every organization. In one local government, systems mapping helped public leaders understand how to combine areas of service that improved their financial reporting and saved the city money. …

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