UPFRONT Government invests $20 million in budding leaders

Weighing into the leadership development game with $20 million investment is the State Services sector.

It has transformed its Management Development Centre into new Leadership Development Centre (LDC) charged with boosting the benchstrength of senior management capability across the public service.

The new LDC will receive $10 million of central government funding over four years plus similar amount from various government departments part as levy and part on user-pays basis from those that field candidates for the programme.

With total numbers involved rising from 25-40 this year to 200 by 2007, that works out at around $100,000 per candidate, says LDC chief executive Bruce Anderson.

This money will fund more concentrated effort to plug the skills or experience gaps of future leaders – ranging from specific skills training, mentoring, and external coaching to secondment that is designed to provide both more experience and broader perspective.

The last is major element of the new programme, says Anderson.

“We’ve done such placements before but only on small scale. An important thrust behind this [initiative] is providing people with better overview of government sectors and processes.

“You can’t, for instance, work in the conservation sector without understanding how it intersects with health or education.

“People have to reach outside their sectoral viewpoint to gain broader perspective.”

The State Services Commission has come up with its own leadership capability profile (those interested can download it from www.ldc.govt.nz) which provides base line for identifying skills/experience needs as well as means of measuring an individual’s progress.

While it includes reference to being motivated by “a spirit of public service” and “ability to walk with respect in diverse worlds”, the SSC leadership capability profile isn’t too different to what you might find in the private sector, says Anderson.

“There are some context-specific attributes they need but it’s really more matter of emphasis than uniqueness.

“Every good leader has to be able to deal with range of external stakeholders. The particular slant in the public service is dealing with Ministers, Parliament – the whole fishbowl environment of the public service.”

As to whether the $20 million proves to be well spent, Anderson says that longer term, it will measured by whether those who have gone through the programme get and are successful in senior roles.

A full formal review both internally and by the State Services Commision will be undertaken when the programme heads into its fourth year and that will determine whether it continues to receive funding.

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