Practical Focus Areas in Generating Effective Leadership Development

  • Petri Virtanen
  • Marika TammeaidEmail author


In order to begin the transformation journey towards the public institutions of the 2020s, the key question is what kind of behavioural changes are required at a practical level and how to steer public sector leaders themselves to develop, learn and act in this brave new world. Another relevant question is how to help leaders to enable others (staff and cooperating partners) to develop and learn so that the new way of thinking and learning is transformed into everyday practices producing better administration for citizens and service users. To enable public sector organisations to better fulfil their societal tasks and create an environment for people to flourish in public organisations, at least two measures are required: first, the need to take a closer look at the generic meta-skills required regardless of which branch of government we are speaking about and, second, starting multiple actions for behaviour and skills development. The focus on senior civil service competence development should be shifted to raising capabilities transferable from one sphere to another and building readiness to tackle varying issues. The ability to transfer skills and capabilities from one context to another is a key element of successful leadership and even more importantly the key element of any impactful learning. At the heart of learning is the idea of deliberately exploring new horizons and taking action in order to be prepared or to be a forerunner in creating a better future. Meta-skill capacity involves the ability to use overarching skills to learn other skills and proactively engage others in skill development and new learning. It is a holistic view of competences characterised by the capacity to evaluate what and how one is doing and thinking and defining priorities, as well as building capacities in relation to learning to learn. This chapter focuses on meta-skills and asks how we can build them into public sector leadership development. Several examples were put forward illustrating how to embed such skills into organisational and leadership development working practices and decision making more generally.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ITLA FoundationHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.University of VaasaVaasaFinland

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