Politicians as Public Administrators

18 Jan

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

Actually,there exists in practicality no clear dichotomy between managers and leaders. The goal lies in the outcomes of the organisations and institutions they both represent.
Administrators or Managers might exist within formal organizational institutions like companies or public service administrative departments, also called administrators. The goal of leaders or in other terms politicians might be to seek power or position for public office, in which case they seek the approval of the electorates from which they acquire legitimacy and followers.  Policy formulation here is largely pragmatic and hangs on socio-political consensus achieved by negotiations and compromise with other opinion and interest holders. In a typical political situation, the leader manifests his attributes through tolerance and fair play considerations. For example the recent trend in conflict prone societies has been for leaders to accept power sharing deals with members of opposition groups.

Where as in managerial positions, they are mostly elitist and guided by norms of membership and participation, such as the administrative corps where managers or leaders go through a routine process of training and must follow certain procedures in the execution of their duties. In political leadership is founded on an ideology and legitimacy is drawn from charisma such as in leaders of revolutionary or transitional circumstances and in other forms of domination as classified by Max Weber.  Managers are mostly implementers of policies formulated by political leadership and are often irresponsible for the failure of a policy. Political leaders witness consternation and can effectively seek or lose power if voted out through a statutory process or by popular revolution meanwhile mangers might maintain their positions beyond the mandate of the political leadership that brought them into office.

Political leadership may lack the benefit of interaction with immediate and remote subordinates, meanwhile public service management follows a hierarchical chain of command and there is the presence of interpersonal relationships. In political leadership, one cannot aspire to advance in position whereas public management is a career corps with possibilities of advancement in grades and remuneration. In political leadership, martyrdom may be an instrument of achieving a following but in staff/managerial leadership, martyrdom is not a norm.

A good political leader is one whose legitimacy is derived and depends on the consent of those represented, as in democracies. A good manager is one who is accountable to both the leadership that appoints or elects him and to the institution which he serves.
Leadership entails making decisions and taking responsibilities for their outcomes, be those good or bad, such as conceding to defeat by an opponent with a better public agenda and being flexible in administrative procedures and policy asking. Leadership should be able to work with groups, cross-functional teams and individually. This distinguishes it from crisis management into a culture of leadership.
Leadership means affecting the behavior of others in some desired way!
Managers though exercising leadership functions within organisations can within political systems be considered auxiliaries of political leaders.

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