Leading with authentic character

Intentions however are not enough if they are not followed through. There is great value in
living and embracing a noble character that drives individuals to persevere and have impact
on the wellbeing of societies. It takes great character traits like discipline and integrity to
persist through the responsibility of holistic system thinking. It takes great character traits
like empathy and patience to listen to customers and try one’s best to fulfil their needs
despite the possible sparsity of time and resources. Charisma and charm are not enough to
translate intentions into real-world impact – authentic change comes from individuals who
are honorable, disciplined, empathetic, and have high levels of integrity as well as patience.
Public sector transformation from within therefore needs to be led by a new type of
employee. Public servants who passionately lead change without a certain fancy title do
exist. They are truly motivated by a noble cause, are willing to take the extra mile to
leverage new resources for it, and are ready to move beyond siloed hierarchies to build the
necessary coalitions with societies and sectors to manage change across different systems.
They experiment, fail, and adjust. The presence of classic hierarchies as well traditional
procurement in the public sector establishes the need for sustainable and flexible capacities
to accommodate and recognize this new type of player and bring innovation into the
mainstream. This involves creating readiness for collaboration by implementing incentives
and new frameworks that unleash the power of co-designing with the public sector. A
serious need to rethink character principles in the public sector is urgently needed, if we
truly care about elevating people lives within and outside this fascinating machinery.

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