Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Karen R. Graham


Problem. Since 1995, with the realization that by 2005 more than 61% of executives in the senior ranks of the Canadian Public Service would be eligible for retirement (La Releve, 1998), the need to recruit and develop competent leaders has become a matter of urgent attention.

Method. Public sector leaders were surveyed by mail-in questionnaires as to their ratings of a set of leadership competencies. Analogue research for private sector leaders, conducted by a colleague, was incorporated for some analysis. A stratified sample of the general public was also surveyed by telephone regarding a subset of the same competencies.

Results. Public sector leaders perceived a shift in importance for the following competencies: cosmopolitan/world view, vision, teamwork, ability to learn, teaching skills, negotiation, interpersonal skills, ethics, entrepreneurial skills, problem solving, initiative, and stamina from 20 years ago to the 21st century; however, they rated business/technical and organizational as decreasing in importance. Public sector leaders identified globalization, technology, diversity, and downsizing as important influences on the required leadership competencies for the 21st century. Public sector leaders rated problem solving, ability to learn, initiative, teaching, ethics, and organizational skills lower than the general population. Public sector leaders rated cosmopolitan/world view as more important than did the general population. When public and private sector leaders' data were combined, public sector leaders rated significantly larger shifts in importance for vision, entrepreneurial skills, and negotiating. Public and private sector leaders ranked the top five competencies of vision, communication, teamwork, cosmopolitan/world view and ability to learn similarly. The general public identified the ability to learn as the top-ranked competency.

Conclusions. The results o f this study inform leadership training and development opportunities for current public sector managers as they plan for the future. This study suggests that public sector leaders perceive significant changes are needed in future leadership competencies. In considering the top five ranked future leadership competencies for the public sector leaders, vision, communication, team work, cosmopolitan/world view, and ability to learn, a compelling story can be told about future leadership and the emphasis on future and relational clusters of competencies for leaders.

Subject Area

Leadership, Organizational effectiveness.


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