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In an increasingly complex and volatile environment, the duties of a manager are increases. A manager is required to have capabilities beyond than just technical skills, but have qualified managerial and leadership. Who able to manage flexible and accountable, and also has a leadership competency to lead organization.
This paper discusses the meaning of managerial skills needed by a manager, with the emphasis on managing flexibly, accountably, and leadership to my current workplace practice. Two different articles are chosen as conceptual reading. The first article about how to manage flexibly and accountably by Feldman and Khademian (2001). While the second article is about the importance of leadership by Lester Levy (2011). The next section presents the summary of each articles, followed by discussion and conclusion.
Article Summary: Principles for Public Management Practice: From Dichotomies to Interdependence.
The way to manage flexibly according to the public’s demand, and at the same time accountable has become a challenging issue in management particularly in public management. The essay by Feldman and Khademian (2001) proposes a conceptual answer to the problem. The authors suggest that both flexibility and accountability in public administration are interdependence. It is essential for manager especially the local administration to respond flexibly to the need of the citizens, but the flexibility must be in an accountable way to the public and other stakeholders. In other word, public administrator has to work based on citizen’s opinion. Hence, administrator’s first thing to do is to find out public assertion and work on it.
The concept of flexibly government has been proposed by many scholars. But the concept has only in the comprehension level, it has never been put in to practice on an extensive level. In relation to the flexibly, Feldman and Khademian have two arguments. The first, a flexible decision making processes may ease managers’ job since it make less complexity to the operations. But they must not separate the need for accountability from flexible decision making. In doing so, managers have to consent to the public opinion and balance with their flexible decision making. The second, organizational system may also restrain the connection between flexibly in decision making and accountability. The doctrine may spread out thorough doctrine and policy. By altering the doctrine and policy of organization, the flexibility in decision making and accountability can be supportive of each other.
To gain understanding on manager’s flexibility and accountability and its relationship, the essay provides literature review on from the recent theory on public management on the managing flexibility, managing accountability and practice.
In managing flexibility the literature provides three main principle of. Firstly, managers require to generate public value. They can use methods to such as the general election as a means to get public opinion. Then, managers create public value based on these opinions. Secondly, the managers have to have a clear target and objective to achieve and conduct the operations. Finally, managers must maintain the idea of continued professional and personal development. Taken as a whole, when the managers understand the need of the citizens, and they continuously work to respond the demand, their mentality would be receptive to the change for the better.
For managing for accountability the essay cites an idea from Peter Aucoin. Aucoin proposes that a certain structural reform can be used to boost objectives of flexibility and accountability. However, the reform may require three main rules. Firstly, separation functions of policy making and operation. Both the duty and the person in-charge in policy making must be segregated from the operations who execute the policy. Secondly, the bottom line of financial statement such as the net earning is used as key in assessing organizations. The use of the bottom line produces clear information whether an activity or program is operative financially, either by improve the government’s performance or reduce costs. Thirdly, a short term, narrowly defined and quantifiable task is given to a small single operation unit within organization. The assessment of performance and term of rewards depend on the creation of specified predefined outcomes. This assessment is called as the Performance Based Organizations (PBOs).
In practice, the authors emphasize in two principles. Firstly, the inclusion of public managers by allowing direct participation from the public. The inclusion not only in the stage of planning the program, but in all stages of the program. From defining the goals and how to achieve these goals, the process and the problems of executing the program, and final achievements of the program. By allowing the public participation gave the managers a better insight to the program, the problems arise and the alternative choices to solve the problems. Secondly, is the primacy of process. It suggests that while the final goal is the problem-solving, the process of getting the solution is more important than the solution itself. Meaning that the better process to accomplish the mission might be necessary, but retreat and looking for input from public on the government’s goals is more important. Public participation creates public appreciation to an administration, and in turn, public see the administration is more accountable.
Article Summary: Why Leadership Matter.
While the essay by Feldman and Khademian discuss about the flexibly and accountably of public managers responds, article by Levy discuss about the need of leadership. According to Levy, Leadership can be learned. This is one of the points emphasized by Levy (2011) in his article “Why Leadership Matter”. Leadership can be mastered when someone chooses the orientation intentionally and repeatedly, yet one thing should be noted that this practice is very hard to do. Leadership matters because it can be followed when the situation is changing and unclear.
There is one ideal type of leaders who can create tremendous influence that results in higher levels of performance and achievement, that is authentic leader. The authentic leader is the substance of leadership. This type of leaders “have high levels of self-awareness, a transparent and consistent link between their expressed purpose (and values) and their actions, a profound sense of ethics and widely respected integrity and courage” (Levy 2011, 51). They dare to fight for the truth even at risk to themselves. In an environment of authentic leadership, leaders and followers collaborating to mutually empower each other to achieve a common goal, to motivate each other and support each other’s creativity and performance. This is a very ideal type of leader and leadership since nowadays in terms of competency leaders often ignore followers and context. Therefore, a lot of organisations would like to develop their leaders to be able to listen more to their subordinate, situations, and also knowledge and skill that is gained through time spent doing a job or activity .
Traditionally, literature puts management and leadership as two different things. However, along the changes of time, literature recorded the evolution into complementary, until recently, the literature suggest that the relationship is interdependence. Management is interpreted as knowledge of proven solution (technical work) to solve problems, while leadership is ability to solve unproven problem (adaptive work). Hence, leadership and management may distinctive, but they are the key success in an increasingly complex environment and turbulent time.
The call for better leadership competencies can be started from altering manager’s paradigm about leadership, from perceive as charisma to leadership is authenticity. Then the more important is to put leadership as practice. Leadership is practiced through experimental, experiential and reflective.
These two articles gave me another perspective about management and leadership. The articles can be applied in private, public, or private sphere. Although to some extent, I think ledership and manage flexibly yet accountably in public management in current Indonesian context are too good to be true both theoretical and practical. Both flexibly and accountably can not be applied together. Application of flexibility may degrade accountability and vice versa. Perhaps my though is affected by my experience with the public management in Indonesia.
In Indonesian context, people perceive leadership as “form over substance” rather than “substance over form” of leadership. People in the country are still view leaders based on ‘cult of personality’, where charisma tends to be valued above all. Based on Gallup research (Ratanjee & Wu, 2013) this phenomenon happens not only in the government but also in Indonesian companies.
In public management, managers unlikely pay attention to the flexibility management to the needs of public and also accountability. One of possible reasons is because the decision making in the country is relatively dominated by the five-years interest, that is the tenure to reign the government through election. Some executives may want to manage flexibly to the need of public. However, if the decision contradicts the interest of other groups, their decision can be protested or even considered as a crime. Any case could reduce their electability in the future elections. Since the executives are in power only for five years and maximum for two times elections, most of the executives are likely choose status quo, make less complexity to their operations. As the consequence, the flexibly and accountably are ruled out, developments are stagnant. This method is practiced hereditary in every generation of government through doctrine and policy. This is become matching with Feldman and Khademian’s (2001) reasons why flexibility and accountability have never been put to a massive practice.
Manage flexibly but turn to a criminal case can be seen in the case of former president director of the Indonesian state-owned power enterprises, Dahlan Iskan. Dahlan’s breakthrough policies with “down to earth” approach to restructure the firm were remarkable, which further raised his popularity. However, after the change of government, he was made a suspect of corruption. The attorney suspects him with the irregularities which not in accordance with legal procedures (Jegho, 2015).
The other case is the former president director of state port operator Pelindo II, Richard Joost Lino. Lino become a suspect in a corruption case involving the purchase of quay container cranes. The equipment was directly appointed which contrary to official bidding procedures. Although an independent auditor had found nothing wrong with the purchase, and experts believe that the case may have political agenda (Pembaruan, 2015), the police still continue to investigate the case.
These two cases indicated that the practice manage with flexibly and accountably especially in public management does have a lot of challenges. The main challenge is the lack of understanding about the goals between the managers in the government agencies itself, such as the attorney and policeman and also political interests. Hence, to practice manage with flexibly and accountably, the alignment of the goal with other government agencies is also vital in addition to the requirements suggested in the article by Feldman and Khademian (2001).
This paper discusses manage flexibly but accountably and leadership based on two articles by Feldman and Khademian (2001) and Levy (2011) respectively. Indeed, the articles and the discussion give me insight about policy, management and leadership roles.
Management and leadership are interdependent. While management skills deal with recur problems, while leadership competencies deal with adapted work. Hence, in a complex and dynamic work environment, both managerial skill and leadership competencies are necessary for managers.
Manage flexibly and accountably is challenging but worthy. Challenging because it may attract complexity to the operations since it requires public participation is in all stages of programs. But worthy because it gives a dynamic responds to the need of the public.
Many people have a wrong perception about leadership. They see and practice leadership as form rather than substance. But the true is the leadership is authenticity not charisma. Leadership can be learn and mastered by practices.
The authentic leaders dare to fight for truth even to risk to themselves. In Indonesia context, many cases reveal that manage flexibly and accountably practice could jeopardize manager’s career and personal. To practice them is a though challenge for managers. As management and leadership are interdependent, perhaps dare to practice flexibly and accountably has another function, can be used to verify managers’ leadership behavior.
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