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Leadership as a Service: A Performance Management Perspective

January 18 2021 - by Dr. Lois Parkes, Leadership Development and Institutional Strengthening Specialist, CARICAD

The current COVID-19 pandemic along with other major occurrences in the international geo-political space has brought much needed emphasis and dialogue about leadership. This dialogue has centered on various topics – leadership resilience, leadership pivot, and leading in crises to name a few. Whatever the focus of the discussion, one central underlying theme has been that the quality of leadership matters if at all regions, nations, and organisations are going to successfully navigate today’s complex environment and context.

In furtherance of this discussion on the quality of leadership, this blog seeks to examine leader­ship from a performance management perspective. Inherent in the notion of leadership is the concept of followership, whether they be staff, work colleagues, stakeholders, customers, clients or citizens. This further suggests that leadership can be conceptualized as a number of outputs that a leader provides for a range of constituents. However, what exactly are these leadership outputs? Data from a comprehensive leadership learning needs assessment conducted across CARICAD member states in 2018 revealed the following as the critical leader­ship competencies and their descriptors for Caribbean public service leaders:



Outcomes Focused  

Take responsibility for delivering expected outcomes on time and to

standard, yet allowing the team space and authority to deliver objectives; use checkpoints and data to track progress, set up systems and processes to measure results, keep team accountable for actions; successfully manage, support and stretch self and team to deliver agreed goals and objectives;  show a positive approach in keeping their own and the team’s

efforts focused on the goals that really matter, not allow unnecessary bureaucracy and structure to suppress innovation and delivery Regularly monitor own and team’s work against milestones or targets and act promptly to keep work on track and maintain performance 


Set up processes to improve information flow at a departmental and wider organisational level as appropriate; impart accurate information (both verbal and written) in a timely way and is receptive to other peoples' opinions; share  information across  the organization and externally; manage and engage with others in a straightforward, truthful, and candid manner; communicate persuasively when required; listens effectively and checks to ensure understanding; understands who will be affected by an issue/change in approach and ensures all stakeholders are kept informed/communicated to appropriately; relays  management and organisational policy and information with conviction, support and authority.   

Effective Planning

Develop an understanding of own function’s strategy and how this contributes to departmental priorities; effectively plan what is to be achieved and properly coordinate and involve all relevant stakeholders; determine the necessary sequence of activities and the efficient level of resources required to achieve both short and long term goals; plan ahead and reassess workloads and priorities if situations change or people are facing conflicting demands; involves others in planning activities; shift resources to ensure delivery; monitor and manage team skills and competence to ensure sufficient resources are available to meet expectations; assess time and resources needed for projects or activities; develop practical and realistic plans that ensure efficient use of resources; plan how to deal with peaks and troughs in workload over time; develop contingencies and adapt plans as necessary. 


Systems Thinking 

Actively encourage ideas from a wide range of sources and stakeholders and use these to inform own thinking; is aware of the department’s and organization’s impact on the external environment; act in a manner to promote and manage change and continuity; prepare for and respond to the range of possible effects that change may have on own role/team; create and encourage a culture of innovation and allow others to consider and take informed decisions;  take initiative; learn from what has worked as well as well as what has not; work in ‘smarter’, more focused ways ;continuously seek out ways to improve policy and process implementation and provide a leaner, more flexible and responsive service; make use of alternative delivery models including digital and shared service approaches wherever possible.   

Emotional Intelligence 

Interpret the emotional state of self and others; make effective use of this information to guide decision-making and behavior; think carefully about the likely effects on others of own words, actions, appearance; is not afraid to push difficult issues towards a decision and take responsibility for the outcome, even when this is by no means clear; remain calm and tactful when challenged and in the face of unreasonable demands;  seek agreement professionally; trust own judgement; willing to disagree and make a stand on issues when necessary/appropriate; recognise and uses the skills and experience of others without feeling threatened; recognise when to act independently and when to seek advice; accept criticism without being defensive; can deliver the bad as well as the good news effectively 

Ethics and Integrity  

Act in a way that is consistent with what one says or values and the expectations of the organization; demonstrate commitment to openness and core values; take time to respect and understand others and be transparent and honest in all dealing with people internal and external to the organization; able to discern solutions to issues which are balanced and fair in terms of the interests of the organisation as a whole; willing to professionally and objectively advance and defend such solutions; recog­nize ethical and unethical behaviours within the organization and respond in keeping with established principles; build trust through modelling desired behaviours; is honest about aspirations and agendas, particularly in relationships with staff, colleagues and other stakeholders; is willing to publicly admit to making a mistake and does not 'pass the buck'.  

Relationship Management  

Leverage interpersonal skills to establish rapport and develop relation­ships with all key stakeholders; supports the creation of an inclusive environment; provide sound advice; establish relationships with a range of stakeholders to support delivery of business outcomes; invest time to generate a common focus and genuine team spirit; actively seek input from a diverse range of people; readily share resources to support higher priority work; show pragmatism and support for the shared goals of the organization; deal with conflict in a prompt, calm and constructive manner; encourage collaborative team working within own team and across the department; share information appropriately and building supportive, trusting and professional relationships with colleagues and a wide range of people inside and outside the service, is approachable, deliver organisational business objectives through creating an inclusive environment. 

Customer Service  

Work collaboratively to build long-term customer relationships and focus efforts on delivering increased customer value; apply exceptional process and project management to enable effective and cost-efficient service delivery; provide the organisation with meaningful analytics to enable business improvement; take account of diverse customer needs and requirements; generate new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; design and propose and implement new or cutting-edge programs/processes; build dialogue with the client to understand real needs- listens, understands, interprets and reflects back; is happy to receive client feedback; treat the customer with intelligence and explains the rationale for action; explain why things can't be done in a particular way; attempt to correct problems before they become critical; monitor customer satisfaction regularly and address as appropriate; take customer problems away from them and owns responsibility for resolving them.  

Building and Maintaining High Performance Teams  

Promotes a clear picture of the departments/organisation’s future and ensures the team can relate own goals to same;  provide clear directions to individuals about performance expectations and checks to ensure understanding; work closely enough with team to know when issues are 'brewing'; keep team informed about developments in the organisation and what this means for them; ensure that team and others have all the necessary information to remain motivated and work effectively; clarify issues when needed and gives explicit instructions to the team when new or different priorities emerge; supports the team and its reputation; demonstrate  the ability to work as part of a multifunctional team to meet desired business goals; meet team deadlines and responsibilities, listen to others and value opinions, help team member to meet goals, welcome newcomers and promote team atmosphere; Identify and recommend steps to address team or individual capability requirements and gaps to deliver current and future work;  promote inclusiveness; continually seek and act on feedback to evaluate and improve their own and team’s performance. 

Coaching and Mentoring  





Ensure that individual and organisational learning and talent development opportunities are fully exploited in order to enhance organisational capability; identify and develop all talented team members to support succession planning, devoting time to coach, mentor and develop others; role model work-place based learning and encourage development, talent and career management for team members; coach and support colleagues to take responsibility for their own development; ask powerful questions; drive intra and inter team discussions to learn from experiences and adapt plans and processes accordingly.  


Knowledge Seeking, Information Management  

Identify a broad range of relevant and credible information sources and recognise the need to collect new data when necessary from internal and external sources; recognise patterns and trends in a wide range of evidence/ data and draw key conclusions, outlining costs, benefits, risks and potential responses; ensure that departmental data and information is treated with care in accordance with security procedures and protocols; inform the design of such procedures and protocols;  Invite challenge and where appropriate involve others in decision making to help build engagement and present robust recommendations is able to seek out information based on an underlying curiosity or desire to know more about subject area; ask questions that go beyond what is routine, in order to 'dig' or press for exact information;  Monitor external sources of sector or specialist information as a basis for taking decisions or building plans; review, scan and analyse trends in the external environment, looking at what can be learned from other sources 


Elements of this competency descriptor have been taken from the UK Civil Service Competency Framework 2012 -2017 


As you examine the leadership competencies above, share with us:

  • What do you see as the linkages between leadership and effectively addressing the current complex challenges that we face today?
  • How might we foster these leadership competencies for our varying levels of leadership?