Engaged Leadership: The New Public Service Managerialism

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Engaged Leadership - The New Public Service Managerialism
Dr Neil Wooding Director of Public Service Management Wales Commissioner for Equality and Human Rights (Wales)

Journal of Finance and Management in Public Services. Volume 7 Number 1

39

Dr Neil Wooding

Engaged Leadership - The New Public Service Managerialism

Abstract In the significant challenges that face managers and leaders to reform and improve Welsh public services this article examines a new leadership behaviour emerging that combines a different set of competencies from those managers have been exhorted to develop in the past. Under pressure to reform delivery, improve resource management and develop new models of governance, premised upon better collaboration and engagement with stakeholders and citizens, managers and leaders are faced with the task of lifting performance beyond the execution of traditional process. The article explores some of the features of this evolving style of leadership as a framework to encourage managers to rethink and refresh their knowledge, skills and experience in the context of the changing needs of public services. These challenges are set within an emerging paradigm described as 'engaged leadership'. This concept is used to contrast a style of management which is open, inclusive emotionally intelligent and connected with what may be represented as counter intuitive to the traditional ways managers have tried to facilitate and maximise the performance of others. Introduction In the significant challenges that face managers and leaders to reform and improve Welsh public services we are beginning to see a new leadership behaviour emerge that combines a different set of competencies from those we may have exhorted managers to develop in the past. Under pressure to reform delivery, improve resource management and develop new models of governance, premised upon better collaboration and engagement with stakeholders and citizens, managers and leaders are faced with the task of lifting performance beyond the execution of traditional process. This article explores some of the features of this evolving style of management as a framework for encouraging managers to rethink and refresh their knowledge, skills and experience in line with the changing needs of public services. For reasons that will become apparent, I have chosen to describe this newly emerging paradigm as 'engaged leadership'. It reflects a move towards a relational mode of management that we might describe as open, inclusive, emotionally intelligent and connected. For many managers and leaders this represents a counter intuitive challenge to the traditional ways we have tried to facilitate and maximise the performance of others. Before describing this change in management and leadership practice, this article will begin by focusing upon the public service context in Wales and the demand this is placing upon Welsh managers and leaders to develop a wider and more relevant skills port folio. Within a trans-national context, the challenges faced by managers in Wales are not dissimilar from those faced by men and women leading and managing services in other parts of the UK. We can of course find variations in the wider public service policy context often described as the 'clear red water' (Morgan, 2002) distinguishing the philosophy and principles underpinning public service delivery in Wales from that in England, however within a local context the challenges faced by managers and leaders are broadly similar to those outlined above. Implicit in this analysis of some of the emerging development needs of managers and leaders is a recognition that to learn to do something differently one must occasionally unlearn or discard those practices and behaviours that no longer serve a clear and useful purpose. These manifestations of management and leadership behaviour reflect the accumulative knowledge individuals have acquired over the course of their careers to meet...
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