The Future Challenges for Public Sector Leadership

This is a conversation which is probably occurring across the public sector. Are we nurturing, training, seeking and developing the leadership the public sector will need in 2030?

As an input to this conversation, we summarise some interesting points from some work done by Deloitte in the UK, “a new mindset for public sector leadership: Take the#TenYear Challenge”.

The authors outline some significant shifts that leaders are having to make.

1. The striking one is the move towards a more networked leadership approach, particularly because the private and voluntary sectors are essential partners. In New Zealand the most important partnership is with tangata whenua. Complex, crucial and rewarding, but requiring depth of knowledge and new ways of being. Gone are the days when a leader manages her or his own agency, leadership is across the system, creative, influencing, partnering – and that requires a very different set of skills and personal qualities than were needed ten years ago.

2.  A second striking capability requirement is “bringing together the physical, the human and the digital in an entirely unprecedented way”. We probably cannot imagine what robotics and artificial intelligence could do to enhance what our work. The question is, are all public leaders clear what technology can do for their organisation. By 2029 artificial intelligence will routine be making decisions that affect people’s lives. Current leaders might not be fully able to lead these changes.

    It will require reimagining organisations with technology working with people, it will require a depth of understanding about technology that may not be present.

    3.  A third interesting area is internal management challenge - the approaches leaders will use to engage their staff, build their cultures with a very different mix of working options, an increasingly diverse workforce and a more dispersed employees and partners across many boundaries.  Visible leadership matters, but to be visible in a different way and to motivate staff and deeply communicate with them cannot only be through traditional means.

    4.  The last area is about personal resilience. The complexity that is evident from the above suggests that our public sector leaders must have adequate support, people around them they can trust, ways of maintaining personal wellbeing. Research suggests that personal purposeful networks for leaders are underdeveloped.