“One of the things I think I can bring to the Presidency is to make government & public sector cool again” Barack Obama
Today’s public sector leaders face critical challenges such as moral regeneration, building a sense of unity in diversity, principled and value based politics, a commitment to national imperatives, and responsibility for a better and viable life for all.
Meeting such leadership demands should inculcate a sense of confidence, ownership and innovation among citizens, while affirming human rights and the application of the freedom charter, fair trade, social justice and fairness in dealing with poverty and under development.
Values that Promote Synergy
In a democracy, this can best be achieved through the management philosophy of responsible servant leadership. This entails being a truthful, principled, objective and visionary leader. Who achieves long term organizational and personal objectives through relationships and influence. Such leaders are guided by embedded values and principles that encourage synergy, common purpose and collective accountability and responsibility.
In an article The Thinker, 2011, Mosiane & Africa argue that central government’s reluctance to devolve power is supported by an untested view that local authorities lack the sophistication required. They suggest there is a need for purposeful public dialogue on national common issues and the constitution in terms of its relevance in building a new paradigm, new behaviours and a new culture to create a credible South African brand.
Such a process of dialogue would be informed by current constitutional values and principles, and provide bold and decisive leadership and direction within a democratic order that upholds human rights as expressed in the constitution.
Fundamentals of Servant Leadership
Leadership plays a critical role in ensuring adherence to constitional imperatives. If it is to be credible, leaders must do what is right for the situation and the people. Responsible servant leadership would provide support in achieving performance that meets the expectations of citizens.
There are 5 fundamentals in responsible servant leadership:
- Self-leadership as the foundation for self- esteem, self-reliance and courage.
- Reconciliation with self , others and the realities of the context.
- Character of Ubuntu (humanity) as a source of integrity and ethics.
- Social entrepreneurship as the basis for innovation, creativity, courage, risk-taking and defining opportunities for growth.
- Shared leadership framework as a means of sustaining relationships, partnerships and social cohesion.
These elements provide a road map for the responsible servant leader in planning partnerships with key stakeholders. They also enforce co-responsibility between the stakeholders and the leader to ensure a transparent process and achieve the intended results and quality of service.
Leadership effectiveness can be measured in terms of: (a) organizational culture, (b) the attitude of employees, (c) the nature of services provided in terms of quality, (d) relevance and flexibility, (e) staff turnover, (f) internal energy level, (g) the culture of collaboration and teamwork, (h) level of innovation and creativity and (i) self-discipline.
Public Sector Opportunities
Challenges facing government at all levels relate to the provision of opportunities for leaders to become authentic and responsive servants. Author Stephen Covey says, “today’s leaders are challenged first to find their voices and then create space and environment for others to find their own.”
Democracy challenges leaders to identify and define points of convergence between the state and the private sector in regard to skills, operating procedures, leveraging each other’s credibility and social networks, access to markets, quality assurance standards, and coordinating roles and responsibilities.§
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