Public employment and management

Leadership for a high performing civil service


Leadership for a high performing civil service:  Towards a senior civil service systems in OECD countries

OECD Working Papers on Public Governance No. 40, 23 September 2020 

Public service leaders – senior civil servants who lead and improve major government functions – are at the heart of government effectiveness. They translate political direction into the policies and programmes that keep citizens healthy, safe, and economically productive. In order to do so, however, they need to have both the right skills and institutional support to deploy them effectively. 

This working paper identifies the four leadership capabilities that are necessary to respond to complex policy challenges:

  1. values-based leadership
  2. open inclusion
  3. organisational stewardship
  4. networked collaboration

The paper also looks at the policies, processes and tools needed to develop these capabilities and support leaders in using them.  The paper concludes with recommendations to help governments take a systematic approach to the development and management of their public service leaders.  


Read the working paper