Executive Summary

The focus of this policy project is to examine how leadership is developed at governance and workforce level in five government agencies in New Zealand, with greater emphasis placed on examining the efforts by each agency in developing leadership at the workforce level to support transition from frontline to management roles.


Managers in the public sector, not only have to face uncertainties that includes changes of government and implementing range of new and sometimes challenging policies but they also have to lead teams of people towards delivering on government and public expectations.  If that is not enough, in the current economic climate where resources are scarce right across the public sector, the need to manage, allocate and use resources efficiently and effectively is required now than ever before.


Leadership in this respect is looked upon and considered as a critical skill that all public sector managers need to have as part of delivering quality services and continuing to lead in a dynamic environment.


Government failure was used to provide historic and wider context behind the inconsistencies and coordination issues caused by reforms that took place in 1980 that has led to the current state of play. Comparative institutional analysis then complemented this approach by creating an opportunity to not only highlight agency weakness but going forward providing an opportunity for a consistent and standardise approach to leadership development in the public that differs from the current policy arrangements.


Key findings:

  • Leadership development at both governance and workforce development levels were inconsistent in all five agencies.
  • Strong leadership at governance level did not equate to strong leadership development at workforce level and vice versa.
  • Leadership development at workforce level is mostly at ‘needing development’ stage.