We underestimate the leadership stretch in moving from private to public sector roles.
1. Getting On Top Of The Brief.
Public sector briefs are way more complicated than private sector ones. Most of us could build a wall; few of us could build inclusive, prosperous societies. Public sector challenges are always systemic – no single lever gets a result – it’s all about interdependencies. It’s hard to learn the system, let alone change it.
What’s more, while a great number of people will tell him they know how to do it, only a very small handful of leaders have proven that they can get results in the public realm. They are rare and a very precious group of people.
Tip 1: Surround yourself with proven public sector leaders. Beware unproven advisors or people who believe it’s simple.
2. Relationships Matter.
Because he is now dependent on a very small group of people who can get results, Donald can’t behave like their boss. His only role is to help them bring their A-Game everyday. To succeed he’ll need to spend a lot of time taking direction from others. He’s now a front man; a hub in the centre of temperamental experts who are better than him.
International relationships matter too. Donald is heavily dependent on a small group of country leaders. While he can buy / bully the less powerful ones, the top 20 or so will only collaborate if they trust him. Dissing their recent work will make for a poor start.
Tip 2: It’s not about winning or protecting anymore; it’s about relationships and all boats rising together.
3. Patience Required.
The complex matters of public service take time. As much as we wish they didn’t, they do. Unfortunatley Donald will be measured by an impatient electorate and media using inappropriate, near term indicators. If he’s the sort of person who likes a clap on the back and a bit of appreciation, he won’t get it in this job – at least not from those who matter. Public service leadership is mostly a thankless task, so the only sustainable fuel is a long term, deep seated, personal conviction to make a social difference.
Tip 3: Beyond winning, showing that you’re smart and receiving plaudits, figure out what meaningful difference you want to make? Define a more granular vision and become obsessed about it. Bottle this motivation. You’ll need it.
They say a steep learning curve brings the best out in us. Let’s hope so!