The public sector is often told to become more like the private sector – more dynamic, innovative, performance-based – but this picture is too black and white, Mike Clancy says in an interview on the Guardian Professional website.
Both can learn from each other, Clancy says. "For the public sector, the holy grail is to capture the dynamism that can come from competition, but it has to be put in an appropriate structure.
"Most governments see that the way to do that is to privatise. But if you can create a dynamism among leaders, with the right forms of accountability, performance management and support mechanisms, you can achieve it. Public sector managers come to work to deliver a service to their customers and they're just as capable with the right frameworks – and both are equally capable of getting it wrong."
Clancy refers to the lack of national support for public services, which he believes will lead to a crisis of employment. "There's an utter misunderstanding of what public servants do. They're not seen as vital, but as bureaucrats or managers that don't add value, or people who've chosen an easy life compared to the challenges of the private sector. Nothing could be further from the truth."
He stresses the importance of leadership in getting the public sector through strained times – as well as goodwill from the other side. "Even for those who've been in public service a long time and have seen twist and turns, this is a real trough in terms of their morale. The challenge for leadership is getting them out of that."
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