Emerging Leaders Program for the Public Sector

Introduction and Background
Today’s knowledge workers are living in a globalized world characterized by ever increasing complexity, ambiguity, and change. In order to meet the challenges of today’s world, leaders are expected to take a bigger view, to put their work into a wider context, and to understand the forces that shape this context.[1]  This requires that leaders develop, in addition to individual leader competencies, new ways of thinking or “action logics” inclusive of constructing new ways of thinking about helping oneself and others to grow.  In short, developing the core values and advancing the beliefs of the way people make decisions and operate in an organization is ultimately the most powerful operating system the organization possesses.[2]


The Key Vision
Every program under the Key umbrella is designed to achieve the Key vision—challenge good managers to become extraordinary leaders who:

  • Exhibit a passion for improving public service;
  • Lead authentically;
  • Learn and work collaboratively;
  • Become a force for personal and organizational change;
  • Act with integrity;
  • Model the behavior sought; and
  • Empower others to action.

The methodology for achieving the vision includes placing participants together in a Cohort where they take all of their classes together. The trusting environment that is created at the Orientation session builds throughout the Program, enabling knowledge transfer, honest feedback, and an opportunity to build positive work relationships—they will be able to draw on a valuable network of peers for advice and support as they continue to develop their leadership potential.

Days one through four will be taught by Key faculty—skilled educators and recognized for their extensive experience at the highest levels of government.  As a result, they are able to stimulate relevant discussions that challenge participants to think about the concepts they read and learn in the classroom, as well as challenge them to apply what they learn in the workplace.


Program Overview
Reading is necessary to expand a range of choices for action. Participants will be given reference materials in advance to be able to apply what they read in the classroom.


Days 1 and 2: Beginning the Leadership Journey
On Day 1, participants will receive an orientation and overview of the Emerging Leader Program including how this program provides the foundation for the (subsequent) New Leader Program and the Experienced Leader Program (see Appendix for brief descriptions of the New Leader and Experienced Leader Programs). Following a half-day orientation, participants will receive an overview of well-known theories and models of leadership.  Discussion topics will include:

  • Leader and follower perspectives on leadership,
  • The leader/follower relationship,
  • Shared and distributed leadership,
  • The distinction between management and leadership, and
  • Current challenges in leadership and motivation.

Participants will be encouraged to explore their assumptions about management and leadership, to review well-known theories of leadership, and to recognize that leadership is not a single, unified concept. They will examine how thinking about leadership has changed in recent years, moving away from a focus on leadership traits and characteristics, towards a view that sees leadership as shared, relational, and part of a complex social dynamic involving inquiry and dialogue. Looking through the lens of their own organization, participants will critique different theories of leadership and followership in terms of their relevance to organizations today, and appraise the relevance of different perspectives on leadership for their own leadership development.


Day 3: Becoming the Leader We Need: It Starts With You
On Day 3, participants will discuss the kind of leaders we need today—those with:

  • Emotional and social intelligence,
  • “Smart power,” and
  • A “shared leadership” perspective.

Emphasis will be placed on self-development as a lifelong journey that “starts with you”—including developing a “bigger mind” perspective, “modeling the behavior you seek,” and understanding the importance of engagement, presence, and authenticity in building collaborative relationships. The role of trust, perception, beliefs, and assumptions will also be discussed.

Effective followers are leaders in their own right – they are skilled at leading themselves.[3] Accordingly, emphasis will also be placed on the importance of self-reflection and leading from where they are, at whatever level, as a basis for becoming a force for personal and organizational change.

Leaders with different forms of mind will have different capacities to take the perspectives of others, to be self-directed, to generate and modify systems, to manage conflicts, and to deal with paradox.[4] Because increasingly complex challenges require increasingly more developed leader “action logics,” Day 3 will also include an introduction to the following different forms of mind/action logics:

  • Dependent-Conformer,
  • Independent-Achiever, and
  • Interdependent-Collaborator.

Participants will be given tools to assess their personal values and competencies and learn basic techniques for self-reflection.


Day 4: Engaging People and Teams
On Day 4, the focus will be on the importance of engaging team members and evaluating the impact of their personal behaviors and communication style on others.  Day 4 includes an overview of collaborative behaviors including:

  • “Question thinking” and the importance of practicing the leadership behavior of “being curious” as a means of building trust and developing others,
  • How to give effective feedback,
  • Third level listening, and
  • The basics of the facilitation process.

Critical thinking and innovative problem solving and other techniques that support ethical decision-making will be discussed in the context of fostering a team culture based on strong ethical values. Given the importance of trust in setting a good ethical example, Day 4 covers and continues the discussion (from Day 2) related to the importance of actively seeking and developing trusting relationships with those they lead.


Day 5:  South Africa Faculty
On Day 5, course content will be designed and presented by South African faculty.

Intended Learning Outcomes
As a result of the Emerging Leader program, participants will be able to:

  • Describe well-known leadership theories and how the theory has evolved,
  • Compare and contrast theories of leadership,
  • Discuss current issues in leadership and motivation,
  • Describe how the work of managers and leaders differ,
  • Describe the leadership journey,
  • Lead by questioning,
  • Listen at the third level,
  • Engage in dialogue,
  • Utilize facilitation skills,
  • Understand the distinction between empowerment and engagement,
  • Understand how engagement, presence, and authenticity impacts how people interact and learn together,
  • Understand how progression from one action logic to the next can be accelerated when one is consciously aware and working on self-development, and
  • Understand that ultimately creating an organizational culture of collaboration and collective learning “starts with you.”

The Emerging Leader Program provides the necessary foundation for growing new leaders into organizational leaders.  The New Leader Program prepares the next generation of senior management, and the Experienced Leader Program hones the skills and leadership capacity of experienced leaders. By integrating these three program components into a comprehensive, graduated leadership program, we hope to begin to create a set of shared leadership practices, language, and a “bigger” collective mindset across the public sector in South Africa.




The American University New Leader program is designed for public sector managers who have had limited or no formal leadership development opportunities.  The Experienced Leader program is designed for experienced leaders who may or may not have had formal leadership development opportunities. Both programs consist of two weeks of interactive instruction with a break between the first and second week to enable participants to apply what they have learned.  During the second week, participants reconvene to discuss their experiences and explore new material.

Participants in the New Leader and the Experienced Leader Programs also have the option of participating in the executive coaching program to further enhance their leadership skills.  Participants may choose one of two coaching options.  Option 1 includes a 360-degree evaluation using the Hay Group Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) together with a coaching session to discuss and evaluate the survey feedback results. Option 2 includes the 360-degree evaluation, the coaching session to discuss the survey feedback results and three additional coaching sessions.

New Leader Program Description 

Week 1

Leadership Development: Transforming from Managing to Leading (3 days)
Participants explore various roles, responsibilities, and choices in creating high performing organizations.  A basic assumption is that leadership is a learning journey to know oneself, one’s relationship with others, and taking responsibility for making conscious choices through reading, dialogue, questioning, and self-reflection.  Participants focus on their personal approaches to leadership, develop an awareness of the advantages and disadvantages that accompany them, identify personal values and understand how those values drive both a leader’s and follower’s behavior. They learn about the role of individual vision and mission in leading and motivating others, and learn the different skills required as one is promoted to levels of increasing responsibility.

Leading for Accountability (2 days)
Participants explore the different roles of leader, manager, and facilitator as they are applied in the context of the workplace.  Participants describe the culture in which their organization operates and its attitude toward teams.  They review class norms and how they are utilized in the cohort. The course begins with a self-assessment to discover the participants’ own strengths in each of the three key roles of leader, manager, and facilitator and they are challenged to critically review their leadership/management style to see whether they are receiving the results they want with their direct reports, peers, bosses, and key stakeholders.  If not, participants are challenged to identify behaviors they might choose to change to be more effective with those they lead.

In addition, participants learn and practice the key tools for interpersonal communication, especially in the context of the manager-subordinate relationship.  The unique skills of seeking feedback and giving feedback in the workplace are central to the course.  The principles and practices of motivating team members in the public sector context are also covered.  Participants will learn their own conflict management style, and how to improve their own effectiveness in the workplace.  They will learn the key steps in setting up and managing project and task teams, including virtual teams, and the importance of developing a team charter, which includes the need for creating a shared vision and identifying goals, roles, and norms.

Week 2

Leading Organizational Change for Results (2 days)
The goal of this organizational change management course is to integrate into participants’ experience useful concepts and practical tools so that participants are more able to lead a successful change effort for results.  The course addresses critical concepts related to leading change such as reorganizing functions and roles as well as the psychological aspects of transitioning through change.  Participants will learn how to assess change readiness and apply models for examining a structured change process and its implementation, taking into account the human dimensions of transition.  Participants will also examine the role of perceptions, assumptions, resistance, beliefs, and values crucial to change initiatives.

Ethics for Public Managers (1 day)

This module explores ethical philosophy and its implications for decisions and action.  It includes concepts of the public trust, conflicting interests, ends and means, deception, personal integrity, work place civility, and the need for government to build and keep the public trust.

Leader as Coach (2 days)

This course teaches participants the essentials of coaching to close team members’ performance gaps as well as teach skills, impart knowledge, motivate, and inculcate desirable work behaviors.  Participants learn relevant theory, concepts, and behaviors including listening at deep levels, asking penetrating questions, giving feedback, and observing positive qualities to guide coaching conversations.  Participants self-diagnose their strengths and areas to develop as a coach and are provided with resources for developing coaching skills.

Experienced Leader Program Description

Week 1

Leadership Development: Transforming from Managing to Leading (4 days)
This course will focus on managing conflict for positive results, how to conduct lively and interesting meetings, extracting ideas from all team members, solving problems in real time, minimizing unhealthy politics, and putting critical topics on the table for discussion.  The module also focuses on the need for systems analysis and systems thinking—seeing interrelationships and patterns of change in complex situations as critical elements to becoming extraordinary leaders. Individuals who have not taken the New Leader Program will be scheduled to take the New Leader version of this course immediately preceding the Experienced Leader Program.

Leading Organizational Change for Results (2 days)
The goal of this course is to strengthen skills and integrate into participants’ experience useful concepts and practical tools so that participants are more able to initiate and lead a successful change effort for results. The course applies concepts such as systems thinking and models that assess change readiness and organize change efforts, taking into account the human dimensions of transition.   It increases understanding of self and others’ behavior styles as they relate to change, exploring ways to move beyond resistance.  In addition, the course strengthens participants’ ability to conduct productive conversations, manage agreements, and increase accountability.

Executive Communication (1 day)
This course examines basic concepts and principles for successful strategic workplace communications.  Participants learn how to create personal messages, memoranda, and policy documents and how to present effective briefings that are heard and acted upon.

Budget Formulation and Execution (1 day)
The ability to plan, control, and manage resources is vital to a leader’s personal effectiveness and organizational success. This course explores the process, concepts, and laws that govern executive branch budgeting, with an emphasis on managerial challenges and strategies for operating in today’s budget environment.

Week 2

Leading for Accountability (2 days)
Participants describe the culture of their organization and its attitude toward teams, and the different roles of leader, manager, and facilitator as they are applied in the context of their workplace.  Participants examine their own beliefs about themselves, others, and the world in which their organization operates, and then learn and practice the key tools for interpersonal communication, especially in the context of the manager-subordinate relationship.  The unique skills of seeking feedback in the work place and giving feedback to subordinates are central to the course.  The principles and practices of motivating team members in the public sector are also discussed.

Political Process (1 day)
Participants study how best to respond to pressure groups, clientele groups, and the general public.  They also address their relationship to political executives, and the political basis of government organization.  In addition, participants examine how their organization fits into the political process from the perspective of attempting to influence its budget and operations.

Network Management: Building Social Capital (2 days)
Participants examine their own networks, understand the power of social networks to assist in the implementation of public policy, and learn how to create and nurture networks across their own organizations, stakeholder organizations, and multi-governmental entities to share information, make better decisions, and more promptly implement programmatic changes.


[1] Berger, J. G. (2012). Changing on the job: Developing leaders for a complex world. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, p. 138.

[2] McGuire, J. B. & Rhodes, G. B. (2009). Transforming your leadership culture. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, p. 4.

[3] Manz, C. C. & Sims, H. P. (1991). Super leadership: Beyond the myth of heroic leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 19 (4), 18-35.

[4] Berger, J. G. (2012). Changing on the job: Developing leaders for a complex world. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, p. 10.