International Challenges and Perspectives
Edited by Jeffrey A. Raffel, Peter Leisink and Anthony E. Middlebrooks
Chapter 17: Is Public Sector Leadership Distinct? A Comparative Analysis of Core Competencies in the Senior Executive Service
Tim A. Mau INTRODUCTION The federal government in Canada is confronting a severe public sector human resources challenge. Not only has working in the public sector become much more complex, but the public service is also facing a number of new pressures that threaten its ability to fulfill its role as a ‘vital national institution’ that can meet the needs of Canadians (Clerk 2006, p. 1). Specifically the challenge is to recruit and retain the best and the brightest to work in the public sector at a time when governments are trying to hire in a much more competitive labor market, the Canadian population is becoming much more diverse and the demand for new employees with the ability to lead others, particularly at the most senior levels, is so great. The reality is that the majority of federal public sector employees are over 45 years of age, whereas fifteen years ago the converse was true. The situation is equally dire at the executive level: about three-quarters of all public service executives are between the ages of 45 and 59, with an average age over 50. Furthermore nearly 20 percent of this group is currently eligible to retire (Clerk 2007, p. 39). In response to this situation, Kevin Lynch, the Clerk of the Privy Council, has identified leadership, along with accountability, teamwork, excellence and renewal, as the key areas requiring both immediate and long-term investments. While his predecessors also acknowledged the critical importance of recruiting and retaining as well as identifying...
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