?Leading in Public Sector is Different
This research from CCL Creative Leadership Center
By: John Ferguson, Peter Ronayne, and Mike Rybacki
Are there different challenges associated with leading in the public versus private sector? If so, do those differences change the skills and behaviours required for good leadership? How might these differences impact leader development?
A CCL study of 1,500 U.S. government civilian leaders and a sample of more than 500 private-sector business leaders over the past five years were answered the previous questions. The researchers found that leaders from both sectors name similar leadership challenges and prioritize them in parallel for the most part, but the unique setting and context found in the public sector leads to subtle, but very real and noteworthy differences.
The following table shows what are the challenges that facing leaders in government leaders(public sector) and business leaders in private sector
A deeper look at the data shows that the environment of government, especially the constitutional structure and financially constrained context of the U.S. government, does appear to change some of the challenges faced by those leaders. For example, motivating employees, financial concerns and dealing with problem employees weighed much more heavily on government leaders than on their business-sector counterparts.
Do these differences change how public sector leaders should behave, the skills they need, and the development necessary to meet those challenges? The answer is probably.
Without the benefit of significant financial incentives and quick promotions, motivating government employees may require leaders to incorporate different strategies to inspire superior performance. Without access to additional resources, even when unit performance or challenges merit those investments, leaders may need to collaborate even more intently and effectively with peers to accomplish the mission. And once these skills and behaviours are identified, how can government inspire them in leaders through systemic development, especially in the resource-constrained environment that is causing some of these challenges in the first place?
Leading is challenging in any environment. Leading in the public sector has some subtle, but noteworthy, additional challenges that require targeted leadership skills and development. With this knowledge, we can all better appreciate and serve those who serve us all