PubPol 587

PubPol 587 Public Management: Leadership Skills for Mission-Driven Organizations

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Winter 2024
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Today's organizations face more volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity than ever before. This "VUCA" reality is well documented and understood by senior leaders, who are responsible for responding to rapid change in dynamic work environments. Advice abounds, as do frameworks and analytical tools that help organizations gather data, strategize, and adapt to disruptions.

This external, strategic focus is vitally important if organizations want to survive in the 21st century. And yet, to quote the cult classic film, Shawshank Redemption, "salvation lies within." For organizations around the globe, the greatest antidote to the VUCA environment is their people. Led well, people are a profound source of collective vision, strength, and ingenuity.

In this course, we will look at mission-driven organizations through the lens of their essential ingredient: human beings. We'll review the empirical evidence and consult your experience. We’ll see that effective leaders balance the need to get stuff done with a strong commitment to engaging and unleashing their people. We’ll explore how they honor and humanize the workplace, bringing out the best in their teams by doing everything in their power to create:
Clarity — about who we are, where we're going, and how
Vitality — built on intrinsic motivation, shared purpose, and energized, autonomous action
Versatility — through skill-building and group norms that are designed to help us execute, learn, and adapt together

We'll be guided in our exploration by decades of research into the factors that create impactful results, but also individual flourishing and collective resilience. As it turns out, these factors are more related and intertwined than previously understood. The most relevant bodies of research – some enduring, some newly emerging – are gathered and organized in the Humanist's Leadership Model.

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