Leadership Challenges of the 21st Century – The 2013 Manion Lecture

I was lucky enough to attend this lecture last fall presented by the Canada School of the Public Service given by Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company on Leadership Challenges of the 21st Century.  Mr. Barton is also on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee for the Public Service.

This lecture had a profound effect on my thinking in the past year and made me realize  how much farther I have to go to be a strategic thinker as a public servant.

The lecture covers a lot of terrain including major global forces – ones you’d be aware of like aging populations and urbanization and a few that were not on my radar – for example, apparently six of the ten emerging markets are in Africa.

In addition, Mr. Barton outlined opportunities for the public service to get aligned with current trends including considering establishing a “nudge” unit to link to behavioural economics, considering establishment of a chief digital officer, considering how to increase spans of control and how to re-allocate budgets more aggressively (and being prepared to “cannibalize current operations”).

Lastly, I really appreciated Mr. Barton’s leadership insights including the need to have a telescope in one eye and a microscope in the other, and the need to dampen panic and volatility and compartmentalize.

One of the best one hour investments in my leadership thinking this year.


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