Political Leadership

Political Leadership

New Horizons in Public Policy series

Howard Elcock

Political leadership is a concept central to understanding political processes and outcomes, yet its definition is elusive. Many disciplines have contributed to the study of leadership, including political theory, history, psychology and management studies. Political Leadership reviews the contributions of these disciplines along with a discussion of the work of classic authors such as Niccolo Machiavelli, Max Weber and Robert Michels.

Chapter 6: The Functions of Leadership: Governing Roles

Howard Elcock

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


INTRODUCTION Studying a wide range of literature about leadership has demonstrated that political leaders need to exercise a wide range of functions. Identifying these functions and the roles leaders must play in order to fulfil them will enable us to consider what advice and support systems leaders may need in order to improve the quality of their decisions. The next two chapters explore the various roles which modern political leaders must play. Chapter 8 then develops an analysis of ways in which they can be helped to play them effectively. Leach and Wilson (2000: 17ff) define four leadership tasks in local authorities: maintaining cohesiveness, developing strategic and policy direction, representing the authority in the external world and ensuring programme implementation. The first two and the last are concerned primarily with the internal functioning of the government; the third with its relations with other agencies. This distinction is fundamental to the following delineation of leadership roles. The first set of functions, governing roles, are concerned with controlling and managing the internal operation of the government of which the leader is head, whether it is local, regional, national or supranational. Leaders must determine the ideological and other parameters within which the government’s managers are required to operate, set the overall policy goals which the government is to seek to achieve and make clear what is expected of all those who are working for it. Leaders also need to ensure adequate coordination of administration, resource use and service provision in order to prevent...

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