In a recent Excellence in Government podcast, Admiral Thad Allen, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Ron Sanders, formerly of the U.S. Intelligence Community, spoke about the need for “enterprise leaders” in government. The two men described enterprise leaders as individuals who can lead across agencies to solve national problems requiring the cooperation and coordination of multiple departments and agencies. Allen, who led the government response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, discussed the complexities inherent in government initiatives and operations, saying that multi-agency endeavors require “different kinds of insight and leadership.”
Allen and Sanders also called for better leadership training within the Senior Executive Service (SES). Sanders noted that the original vision of the SES has never come to fruition. While the SES was originally designed to be a cadre of senior executives who would move from agency to agency, bringing their expertise with them, those in the SES rarely work outside their agencies.
According to Sanders, the U.S. government has entered an era where the original vision of the SES is essential, and where executives are required to operate on multiple levels. Sanders described the new old vision as “back to the future,” explaining that because each agency will eventually be involved in some interagency element, it is necessary that executives be able to move within departments and lead multi-agency operations.
“Everything the government does is interagency. We need to start developing leaders for that kind of brave new world,” said Sanders. He went on to encourage mid-level government employees to push for better leadership training opportunities that focus on the competencies agencies need to work together, including courses, training, and rotational assignments.
For more information on the Excellence in Government podcast, please follow the link below.
The New Type of Leader Government Needs Now, Government Executive