Leaders in short supply for the public sector

Here’s an article that both confirms my worst impressions and suggests that we have a lot of work to do: Good Money Thrown at Bad, Simon Caulkin, Observer 22 July 2002. We work a lot in the public sector especially in the arts and the fire services (strange pairing I know but it works for us, and them!). Increasingly we are doing work that involves issues of leadership, cultural change and organisational upheaval. And it needs a steady supply of capable people.
Simon’s article argues that massive investment in the public sector is going to be wasted without those people resources. And he is right. We have looked at projects recently that need to be led by a calibre of people that don’t exist within the existing organisation. Attracting people from outside the public sector is difficult and expensive. And quite often there simply isn’t time to ‘grow’ people from inside.
It needs a different kind of investment – over a long time to achieve a sea change. It means admitting that the private sector hasn’t got all the answers (Marconi, Enron, British Rail etc) – indeed does it have any that will assist in the public sector?
We are touting ideas for long term change. Developing a new breed of entrepreneurial leaders for the public sector. It remains to be seen if there’ll be any takers.