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Today's political leadership requires a range of talent, skills

Thursday, October 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

As better transportation and the widespread use of the Internet make the world smaller and smaller, the demand for effective political leadership increases. This is true for all kinds of government agencies but it goes further than that. Many community and private organizations are also looking for better leadership today.

Think about some of the news stories that are making the headlines. Whether they are about something that happened in a country that is located thousands of miles away or about a difficult situation in the town next door, there is a good chance that political leadership is an important part of the story.

Implementing reforms

When change or reform comes to an area – such as a local community planning to expand a transit system or two nations considering a major trade agreement – it requires smart political leadership. Each of these examples creates a big demand for people who understand what needs to be done and can lead the process to a successful conclusion.

In cases like these, local residents may see their elected public officials as important political leadership. However, good leadership skills are needed at all levels of high-performing teams. A Master of Public Administration is a good degree for professionals who want to develop their leadership skills, whether they work in the government itself or in a private organization.

Experts in areas such as public policy analysis, administration, managing the departments of local governments, and administering political and public policy are needed to achieve large-scale and even smaller-scale goals. Further, not only will governing bodies be involved in the long term, non-governmental groups and many nonprofits have roles to play.

Leadership styles vary

In the same way, it is impossible to stereotype the style of political leadership needed today. Media outlets always feature high-profile leaders, such as presidents, prime ministers and other national leaders. This focus can cause the casual observer to mistake personality for leadership. The professionals who drive real change understand that effective leaders do more than bully or twist arms. They leverage a range of styles, talents and knowledge to get things done. Among these attributes are:

  • Administrative and management ability,
  • Analytical skills,
  • Recognized authority,
  • Facilitation skills,
  • Ability for aspirational thinking,
  • Communication skills, and more.

Going forward

Engaging the public and making real reforms will always be major challenges to those charged with political leadership. These professionals are responsible for envisioning new institutions and relationships. They must convince others that major improvements are necessary. Today's best leaders do more than make incremental changes.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online MPA program.


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