An introduction to public leadership
An introduction to public leadership

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1.4 What capabilities are needed for public leadership?

Having defined the public sphere, who exercises leadership and what they do, in this section you can look at how they lead. You will explore two capabilities for effective public leadership – political astuteness and assessment of context.

In this video, Jean Hartley, Professor of Public Leadership at The Open University, discusses her research into the leadership capabilities of public servants, particularly those who work closely with elected politicians.

Two key capabilities were identified in this work as important for effective public leadership. The first is political astuteness, a combination of understanding the dynamics of differing group interests and judgement; and the second is assessment of the context, often multi-layered and constrained by individual codes of conduct, in which leadership is required.

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