Leadership: It Depends on the Deck You've Been Dealt (Part 4)

But in reality, the success of a leader depends on the context, or environment, in which they work – the deck they’ve been dealt. Even the heroes. 

But as the context – the workplace, the workers, and the work – change (because we are in more of a knowledge-based economy) -- a different type of leader tends to be more successful, especially when the challenge is cross-agency and/or cross-sector. The “lone hero” isn’t always the most effective leader in this new world.  In fact, the best leaders tend to share leadership in any large-scale change effort.  For example: 

How Understanding Behavior Influences Program Performance

Government managers, however, can use these new approaches to dramatically improve the performance of their programs, if done right.

Climate Change Is Now a High Risk

Typically, we think of the GAO focusing on territory familiar to auditors, which is what most of the high risk list does:  managing federal real property, DOD supply chain management, NASA acquisitions management, modernizing federal disability programs.  But now it has added a politically-charged topic to its list, but has taken the middle of the road on the topic.

Leadership in a Changing World

So this was an opportunity for me to reflect on my experiences and observations over my career.

Leadership can be a difficult topic about which to convey anything meaningful.  There is so much written about the topic and it either feels like conceptual theory or platitudes, or you wind up narrating personal war stories.  I’m no Tom Fox, who writes thoughtfully about this topic weekly for the Washington Post!

Does Management By Numbers Work?

Dr. Hood, who is a well-respected public management professor, poses this question in a recent article in the Public Administration Review and his answer is:  it depends.

He posits that what the numbers are used for -- and the operational culture in the organizations in which they are used -- will influence the effectiveness of any “management by numbers” strategy.

What's the Recipe for Good (Collaborative) Relationships?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, there are all sorts of advice columns about improving relationships.  Well, A new IBM Center report by Dr. Jane Fountain, Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers, offers advice on successful cross-agency relationships.  She says there is a recipe for success, but that it depends on a number of factors.

To Be Loved or Feared?

Style matters, claim several Harvard Business Review authors, Amy Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffinger, in a recent article.  They write: “A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence – and to lead – is to begin with warmth.”  They underline this, noting:  “Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you.” 

Throwing Rocks and Birds

In 2002, British academic Jake Chapman wrote a paper for Demos, a UK think tank, entitled: “System Failure:  Why Governments Must Learn to Think Differently.” It is based on his experiences in working with large government challenges, especially in the energy and health care sectors.  In his paper, he contrasts the traditional, linear approach to problem-solving with a more holistic, systemic approach.  He says it is like the difference between throwing a rock and a live bird:

Four Approaches to Crowdsourcing

Gavin Newscom is California’s lieutenant governor, and was formerly the mayor of San Francisco.  He is a huge advocate of the use of technology to engage citizens, which he describes in his book, Citizenville.  But advocates of greater citizen engagement extend beyond political leaders to many frontline government executives at all levels – federal, state, and local.

 

Tri-Sector Leadership Skills

An article in the September issue of Harvard Business Review by Nick Lovegrove and Matthew Thomas tries to explain why.  They examine the careers of leaders who have been successful in addressing complex challenges requiring collaboration across a wide range of stakeholders. They cite Harvard Kennedy School professor Joseph Nye, who says that these kinds of leaders have the ability to “engage and collaborate across the private, public, and social sectors.”

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Senior Fellow
IBM Center for The Business of Government
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Mr. Kamensky is a Senior Fellow with the IBM Center for The Business of Government and an Associate Partner with IBM's Global Business Services.

During 24 years of public service, he had a significant role in helping pioneer the federal government's performance and results orientation. Mr. Kamensky is passionate about helping transform government to be more results-oriented, performance-based, customer-driven, and collaborative in nature.

Prior to joining the IBM Center, he served for eight years as deputy director of Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. Before that, he worked at the Government Accountability Office where he played a key role in the development and passage of the Government Performance and Results Act.

Since joining the IBM Center, he has co-edited six books and writes and speaks extensively on performance management and government reform.  Current areas of emphasis include transparency, collaboration, and citizen engagement.  He also blogs about management challenges in government.

Mr. Kamensky is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at: john.kamensky@us.ibm.com

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