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Leadership as an Agency’s Outcome

We often forget that the essence of an organization is its people. Public sector organizations are notorious for this oversight. If we expect them to be successful, innovative, and improve the organization, we need to focus on how we produce leaders and what we expect from the process. That being said, we should ask ourselves what kind of leadership matters?

From an organizational perspective, the most valuable leadership is “performance leadership,” the human skills and motivation that is continuously supported and reinforced by the organizational design. Its components include the individual’s commitment to understand organizational performance, the motivation to develop skills that align to organizational goals, and the choice to pursue performance improvement. When we see successful organizations in sports, civics, and business, we also see those who provide performance leadership—those with “skin in the game.” It is not just their dedication that causes the “wins,” it is the dedication of the organization to their performance leadership.

If public agencies ignore the responsibility to develop performance leaders, we are allowing the ugliness of bureaucracy to take over, the dehumanizing practices that make each person a “Cog in the Wheel.” Take a hard look at your agency….while most organizations have managers for routine activities, and some have leaders for future initiatives, few have leaders for lasting performance capabilities.

Are you a Performance Leader?

Is your agency developing performance leadership?

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David Paschane

I’m starting a series of blogs that follow my research on government bureaucracy and methods of overcoming it through performance leadership. The full study is available to he hardcore analysts.

David Dejewski

Performance vs bureaucracy – this is an interesting relationship you set up for us. Do I understand correctly – that you propose a commitment to performance leadership as an anecdote?
How would we produce the type of leader you’re referring to? What should we expect from this process?
Thanks for bringing this up! Performance has been a hot topic over the years. 🙂

David Paschane

I think performance is the only topic for an executive of an organization, but in this focus folks tend to overlook or ignore the capacity for performance. The capacity includes both the people and the structure. So, the question is how to get such integrated capacity, and why is it really necessary? It is a complex process, it requires reliable methods, and is essentially a discipline. I will lay out more of these points in the subsequent blogs. Thank you for asking.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Great post, David. When you talk about the word “performance” or “performance leadership,” are you talking about producing leaders that (a) know how to get things done and (b) are committed to professional growth and coaching team members to learn and advance beyond the accomplishment of outcomes? Sometimes we talk about performance and it leads to that “cogs in the wheel” culture – “are people producing widgets?” – versus “are people contributing and achieving work-life balance / growth?”

David Paschane

I use “Performance Leadership” to describe members of a group who can lead structural improvements to work conditions and capabilities. They can because they have the interest and motivation in themselves and because the organization supports their awareness and discretion.

Doris Tirone

You make some great points, David. Succession planning is often the weakest link in Federal employment management and it’s a great tool for developing leadership skills in potential leaders. Althought the Feds are relatively new to “performance management” (as bureaucracies go), Govies have discovered that desired outcomes and measurable yet worthwhile goals are often intangible for service organizations; this makes performance measurements difficult to “chase down”. OPM offers some great guidance on Leadership Development but as the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water… etc.”.