Management Insights

The Temperament of a Great Leader

Most of the qualities of a good civic good leader, I'm convinced, can be learned. A reasonably empathetic person can master the arts of relationship-building, group management and persuasion. An observant person can learn the processes behind public policy and, in time, see opportunities for action. With a little modesty, a good leader can find her role and, with a little audacity, fill it brilliantly.

But there's one quality that the best leaders possess that I don't think can be learned easily, and that is temperament. It's an old-fashioned word that refers to a person's nature or disposition, especially as it affects his or her behavior. And the temperament that the best leaders possess allows them to "quiet the self." READ MORE

The Continuing Costs of Budget Uncertainty

Back in February 2013 in this space, I wrote about the governmental costs of budget uncertainty. Predictably, however, the phenomenon is still alive and well. At the state level, Illinois has replaced California as the poster child for gridlock. As I write this, the state is in its fourth month without a budget. Because of a series of short-term fixes and judicial decisions, state employees are still being paid, aid to schools is continuing and funding to many other recipients of state funds has not been interrupted. The state comptroller estimates, however, that the state could have $8.5 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the calendar year.

There appears to be little optimism that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic legislature can put aside their differences over taxes and collective-bargaining rights to pass a budget anytime soon. And a similar budget drama is playing out in Pennsylvania, although that state's impasse pits a Democratic governor against a Republican-controlled legislature. READ MORE

5 Keys to Government’s Digital Transformation

An aging population, the rise of millennials, budget shortfalls and ballooning entitlement spending all will significantly impact the way government delivers services in the coming decades, but no single factor will be more important than the pure power of digital technologies.

Governments at all levels are in the midst of a historic (and frequently wrenching) transformation as they abandon analog operating models in favor of their digital counterparts. This is happening not only in the United States but across the world. READ MORE

A Tipping Point on Evidence-Based Policymaking

In 2012, I wrote in this space about an initiative being piloted in a handful of states to help policymakers, through the use of rigorous evidence and benefit-cost analysis, prioritize funding to programs that are most likely to produce positive results. At the time, many state and local governments were struggling to balance their budgets and policymakers were eager for an alternative to across-the-board cuts.

Fast forward to 2015, and 19 states and four counties have collectively directed $152.1 million to evidence-based programs with an estimated $521.3 million in return on investment. These governments have adopted an innovative and rigorous approach to policymaking: Create an inventory of currently funded programs; review which ones work based on research; use a customized benefit-cost model to compare programs based on their return on investment; and use the results to inform budget and policy decisions. READ MORE

An Essential Building Block for the Public Workforce

With an unprecedented convergence of workforce trends impacting public-sector employment -- from accelerating retirements to hiring that has increased to no more than an uptick due to the lingering effects of the Great Recession -- it's more important than ever for governments to think about better ways to not only attract top performers but also to keep them.

This calls for progressive and practical strategies and tools. One of the most important of those is a robust career management program for public employees. READ MORE