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About this book

This major new text by one of the leading figures in the field worldwide, provides a systematic, and up-to-date introduction to political, public service and civic leadership drawing on a wide range of examples from across the western world. Rather than uncritically importing concepts and themes from the world of business, the author takes full account of the distinctive character of public leadership. Drawing on a wide range of both established approaches and cutting edge research - including his own - he provides an intellectually sophisticated but accessible state-of-the-art assessment which will meet the needs of students and practitioners alike.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Unlocking Public Leadership

Abstract
Every group or society needs to be governed if it is to survive and its members are to thrive. And every system of governance requires what we have come to think of as ‘leadership’, at least from time to time: protection, direction, order, inspiration, challenge, transformation. Institutional rules, procedures and routines alone are never enough to tackle the conflicts, changes, surprises, opportunities and challenges that groups and communities encounter. Judging when and how to design, protect, supplement or change governance institutions and creating momentum to act upon those judgements are key functions of public leadership. In most governance systems there are designated roles — high offices in politics, government agencies and professional spheres — that come with a warrant for their bearers to exercise such leadership. But these offices also come with constraints — institutional, professional, ethical — on the ways in which leadership can be exercised. We realize we need the creative force that is leadership, but we are also acutely aware of the risks of channelling too much power, authority and public adulation towards only a few people. These public office-holders moreover do not have a monopoly on the exercise of public leadership: people and groups outside the formal leadership stratum can espouse ideas for tackling governance challenges, gather support for them, and so challenge or complement the leadership of public office-holders. Public leadership is thus part of the job for some, but a calling, a duty, an opportunity or a coincidence for many others. Its exercise is necessary, but also dangerous. It can elevate and motivate us, but it can also drag us down.
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 2. The Work of Public Leadership

Abstract
This is a book about public leadership. That fact alone sets it apart from the bulk of the leadership literature, which is focused on corporate or organizational leadership. These insights cannot simply be transplanted into the public sector context. The pressures of expectations and responsibilities that both types of leaders face are not perhaps wholly dissimilar. The spheres in which they operate are distinct but inevitably intertwined in important ways, yet their craft and the conditions under which they practice it are fundamentally different in important respects. I shall not repeat all the familiar arguments made in support of this contention. They boil down to the one key point: public and private leadership perform fundamentally different functions in society, and because this is so, public and private leaders are subject to fundamentally different incentive structures and accountability regimes.
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 3. Leading with Authority

Abstract
Imagine you are a senior public servant in the Ministry of Human Services, Families and Multicultural Affairs, heading up the latter division. A key plank in your divisions work is the Celebrating Communities programme, which subsidizes ethnic community organizations in areas such as adult and religious education, neighbourhood development and social work, as well as funding long-term research to build up the knowledge required to carry out evidence-based policy in this relatively novel and complex area of public policy.
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 4. Leading with Others

Abstract
Two-term US President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, cornered by revelations that he had authorized and subsequently covered up political espionage against his political opponents. Despite being an intensely controversial politician throughout his career, the public outrage and disenchantment that the relentless media coverage of the scandal generated was too much even for Nixon to handle. He bowed to the pressure, and spent the remainder of his life trying to regain public respect. Quite successfully so, in fact; when he died 20 years later, all his successors attended, and the eulogies at the funeral and in the media spoke highly of him. Nixon’s attempt to re-establish his reputation rested largely on his stature as an international statesman, boosted by the foreign policy accomplishments of his administration — ending the Vietnam War, making a historic approach to Mao (‘Nixon goes to China’ is now a generic terms for leaders achieving a breakthrough by making a move that seemingly goes against all they stand for and their constituents expect them to do), nuclear arms limitation treaties with the Soviet Union, and bringing a noticeable thaw in the Cold War.
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 5. Leading in Context

Abstract
Australian prime minister, John Howard (1996–2007), learnt the hard way that time and timing are crucial in achieving and exercising public leadership. He became leader of the Liberal Party at a time when it was internally divided, and much of the country rallied behind the popular Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke. Howard lost the first major elections under his leadership, and paid the price. He spent years in the political wilderness as a shadowy presence in the shadow cabinet, now run by his main rival. But Howard possessed a deep belief in his own capability to lead and an insatiable appetite for power. Riding out the rebuffs and derision, he never considered quitting. Instead, he waited in the wings. He never stopped campaigning, rebuilding connections with the grass roots and the party organization.
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 6. Leading in Crises

Abstract
Let us begin by looking at three government leaders who were faced with major emergencies and how they fared. In August 2002, some six weeks before the scheduled national elections, flooding of the River Elbe hit eastern parts of Germany. When the floods hit, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s position as head of a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens was relatively weak, with his government lagging behind the Christian Democrats in the polls. Despite responsibility for the emergency response lying with the states (Länder) rather than the federal government, Schröder visited disaster-struck areas and quickly made available emergency funds to aid the relief and recovery effort. These gestures conveyed the impression of a leader who genuinely cared and was decisive when needed. His chief opponent at the election, Christian-Democrat Edmund Stoiber elected to stay away from the flooded areas, as he had nothing concrete to offer as opposition leader and did not want to be seen to be drawing resources away from relief operations. The public interpreted this as a critical lack of judgement. Stoiber — who was also the chief minister of the rich southern state of Bavaria — apparently had no empathy with the plight of the poor former East German population affected by the floods. The contrasting crisis leadership performances of the two election candidates were later shown to be a major factor in Schröder’s surprise election victory a few weeks later (Bytzek 2008).
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 7. Evaluating Public Leadership

Abstract
We shall begin this chapter on evaluating leadership by pondering the careers of Rudy Giuliani and Christine Nixon a little further. We met both of them earlier in this book, in different roles on distant continents, brought into the text separately to illustrate particular parts of the argument. But now we put the two of them together: two public officials, one elected, the other appointed, who have both scaled the heights and depths of life in the public and political spotlight, where the assessment of an individual’s performance can go up and down nearly as fast as the value of stocks. Both have written a book about their experiences (Giuliani 2002; Nixon and Chandler 2012).
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 8. Memo to an Agent of Change

Abstract
This chapter will be quite different from those preceding it. So far, I have been in diagnostic mode. I have presented you with questions, concepts, models and research insights that each illuminates different aspects of public leadership:
  • The distinctive challenges (‘work’) it entails, and the tools leaders have at their disposal to perform that work (Chapter 2).
  • The nature and variability of the ‘licence to operate’ that leaders receive from followers and constituents (Chapter 3).
  • The often overlooked reality that the work of public leadership in a particular setting is seldom performed exclusively by a single person (‘the’ leader) but generally by different authority figures or otherwise influential actors aligning their actions with those of their respective constituents (Chapter 4).
  • The importance of context — ideational, situational, historical, temporal, and the ways in which leaders discern and relate to contexts — to understand leadership processes and outcomes (Chapter 5).
  • The distinctive challenges and opportunities which ‘crises’ — in particular threatening, emotive and often urgent developments that prompt public calls for non-routine, often drastic forms of intervention — present for public leaders, agencies, and their critics and opponents (Chapter 6).
  • The vexed issue of how one can evaluate the quality of public leaders and/or leadership (Chapter 7).
Paul ’t Hart

Chapter 9. Retrofitting Public Leadership

Abstract
This book has been about ‘understanding’ public leadership. One of its take-home lessons is that the challenges, shape and style of public leadership will vary as a function of (changes in) the contexts in which it operates. In the final chapter I get into a helicopter, and take a bird’s-eye view of the changing context in which contemporary public leadership is unfolding. With these contextual changes in mind, I also survey the landscape of public leadership discourse and offer both a critical account of where we stand today and where we should be heading tomorrow.
Paul ’t Hart
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