22 August 2013

Survey Reveals Top 10 Leadership Qualities

Extract from Public Administration Today – Edition #35

How do you define effective leadership? What does a leader need to have achieved before he or she could be classified as an ‘effective leader’? What key qualities are needed in public sector leaders of the future?

These were some of the questions posed to 20 of the most senior leaders in NSW by the IPAA NSW President and Auditor General, Mr Peter Achterstraat.

My audits are showing that the underlying malaise in unsuccessful programs is usually a lack of effective leadership.

After interviewing the CEOs one-on one I asked them to complete an on-line survey. I listed 40 leadership qualities and asked the CEOs to nominate the 10 they considered most essential.

The results, in order of importance were:

  1. Integrity.
  2. Able to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and build partnerships.
  3. Communication skills to be able to inspire people with their vision.
  4. Accept responsibility and accountability.
  5. Able to deal with ambiguous or conflicting agendas.
  6. Sound judgement.
  7. Strategic thinking skills.
  8. Small ‘p’ political nous.
  9. Develops staff.
  10. Appropriate risk taker.

However the clear standout was the notion that to be effective, a leader needed to have and display a clear set of values that were aligned to delivering the public ‘good’. CEO’s stressed the need for leaders to be ‘values-based’.

My summary is that the effective public sector leaders of the future will need to have the ‘Core’ leadership qualities such as integrity, empathy and self awareness but also, now be able to:

  • Influence people even though they may not have direct control over them.
  • Handle complex, conflicting, ambiguous, volatile, uncertain agendas.

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