Good leadership critical for development

16 November 2011

Forum looks at leadership in the public sector as a prerequisite for national development and growth

Good leadership at all levels is critical to development, irrespective of a country’s size or stage of development, said Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith at a meeting for public sector leaders from around the Commonwealth on Tuesday, 15 November.

Opening the three-day ‘Senior Leaders Forum’ at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London, Mr Smith said sustained and effective leadership is essential to the formation of government policy, its implementation, and to the efficient and equitable delivery of public services, and good governance.

The meeting is organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) and the World Bank.

Strengthening leadership in the public service is a key priority for Commonwealth countries, as it motivates high performance, coalesces development efforts, and galvanises support for public sector reform. Participants at the Forum will work on improving their leadership skills to achieve national goals for development and change.

Mr Smith urged participants to make tough decisions in the face of challenges and added that they must prioritise, balance the needs of various constituencies, and judiciously maximise the use of finite resources – ensuring at all stages that the quality of service and motivation of people are kept high.

“Today, the public sector must be able to demonstrate enduring strengths in quality, motivation and independence. To engender these strengths, and to ensure the creation of highly productive and skilled organisations in the public sector, requires above all the systematic exercise of capable and effective leadership at all levels, and across gender,” he said.

A strong public sector that delivers services and programmes was highlighted as a prerequisite for national development and growth.

“Building a public service that possesses integrity of character and wisdom to lead is essential if organisations are to succeed and flourish,” said Paul Zahara, President of CAPAM.

He added that one key lesson from recent history is that strong visionary leadership is needed to deal with chaotic events such as the impacts of the economic crisis.

The Forum preceded the ‘Women Leaders for Development’ meeting, where women leaders working in the public sector from around the Commonwealth will map out steps to improve gender equality in the public sector, and discuss strategies to become more influential and transformational in their roles.

Other events during the week include the launch of the ‘Commonwealth Governance Yearbook 2011/12’ which is a collection of writings from public service practitioners and experts in public administration and management.

The World Bank will also present on its experience in public service management and its new public sector reform strategy.