Skip to main content

Public administration courses teach students how to lead

Thursday, October 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Sometimes we hear a person called "a natural-born leader." In most cases, that is far from the truth. Usually the people cited as great leaders have taken a long time to hone their skills.

Public administration courses can be an important part of learning and developing leadership skills. It takes more than just experience to get the ability and knowledge needed to make things happen in the world today. This is because organizations and societies have become very complex.

Leadership rates high

People everywhere want to see their communities and nations move forward. Any time there is "forward movement," it takes good leaders. Other skills are also very important, but leadership is usually ranked at the top of the list. In fact, when one international development group asked development recruiters to compare technical and management skills, 70 percent said that the "ability to lead effectively" was the most important skill.

Laurel McFarland is the executive director of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. She says that many working professionals return to school for public administration courses and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) because "they haven't had the kind of leadership development training that they need to not just do their job but to lead people, and not just lead people but to help an organization envision where they want to go."

Management is challenging

Nothing gets accomplished unless strong leadership is combined with good management skills. Administrators need to navigate a wide range of regulations and often coordinate the efforts of public agencies, private groups and nonprofits to complete projects and hit goals. Collaboration between these groups is called "tri-sector leadership" and working in this area requires a depth of management knowledge and skills.

These public-private partnerships are becoming more common all the time. Because of this, public administration courses that give professionals "tri-sector" leadership and management skills are critical today. Acquiring these skills through an MPA online degree program can be the best and most convenient choice for those already working in public administration.

Leadership skills aid in talent development

To keep the best talent on their teams and be able to meet shifting demands, 21st century leaders need to know how to develop personnel. The best leaders today are able to work with people, recognize their talents and provide them with ways to develop and advance.

Not only is it important to create the best professional environment for co-workers, good leaders need to be able to understand and communicate with the public. Promoting democratic participation is one of the keys to successful leadership.

Master both soft skill and hard skills

Learning the required technical skills is an important part of public administration courses, but it may be the people skills taught in these courses that make good leaders and ultimately lead to the greatest success.

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


Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.