Headlines: July 27th, 2006


New research says public sector leaders are failing to deliver effective leadership programmes and that decision makers still have an internal focus and fail to look beyond the boundaries of their own organisations for opportunities for collaboration. The research has been carried out by organisational development specialists, CPCR.

The researchers say their findings have significant impact on those working in leadership roles in the public sector. Those who choose not to look beyond their own sphere of influence, they say, are unable to create efficient alliances and fail to deliver successful outcomes for public services. By focusing on the short-term and protecting established responsibilities, the researchers say, the leaders are also undermining their ability to influence the strategic direction of future policy.

The study finds that although public sector leaders score well in ‘softer aspects ‘of leadership, they still need to learn lessons. Only one in three of public sector leaders who were surveyed rated as ‘strong’ their own ability to explore links with external stakeholders. More than half of them rated themselves as poor at establishing new partnerships.

The CPCR report says such failure to scan the wider environment for collaboration opportunities means leaders are unaware of important internal and external trends and as a result are perceived by key stakeholders as reactive rather than proactive. This, the report goes on, typically results in a failure to predict new opportunities and also has an impact on how leaders are viewed internally. Employees often perceive their leaders as uninspiring, reluctant to embrace change and afraid to take risks.

The research also highlights performance management issues within the public sector and shows that of those leaders taking part in the survey over half said their ability to deal with poor performers was weak.

Simon Parker, Managing Director, CPCR, said a recent National Audit Office report had examined the complexities behind public sector delivery chains and had identified leadership as one of the key criteria for improving efficiencies. “With this in mind, our research highlights the need for leaders working in the public sector to address the skills shortage, ensuring they are ideally placed to deliver effective leadership programmes for their organizations,” he added.