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Collaborative Leadership Development for Local Government Officials: Exploring Competencies and Program Impact

Author: HEATHER GETHA-TAYLOR and RICARDO S. MORSE
Published in PAQ, Vol. 37 No. 1

The increased emphasis on collaborative governance across the field of public administration necessitates a rethinking of what the core competencies of public managers are and how they might be developed. The traditional model of leadership development, focusing on leading within bounded hierarchy and via command-and-control must be moderated with an additional focus on collaborative problem-solving, working in flattened structures, and incentivizing behavior in new ways. This article reviews relevant literature along with the experience of two local government leadership programs to explore content and training approaches needed to prepare local government leaders for collaborative governance. Qualitative and quantitative survey findings indicate that program content should specifically address collaboration competency development. Further, training evaluation strategy should allow for processing and reflection: immediate reaction surveys should be supplemented with a long-term evaluation strategy. Finally, while scholarly literature recommends non-traditional, peer-learning activities for collaborative leadership development, this research offers mixed support. The program examples and associated research findings highlight the importance of a strategic approach to training that reflects emerging leadership needs.

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