Sunday, April 29, 2007

Maxwell: the "Bouncing Czech", leadership and public services

(To be precise Bob Maxwell was a Ruthenian from the borders of modern Ukraine and Slovakia rather than a Czech.)

I am disappointed to be missing this week's BBC2 drama about Bob Maxwell.

Maxwell was living proof of the saying (from Russia or Scandinavia or Japan – you choose) that “the fish rots from the head”.

According to the management writer John Argenti, corporate collapse is associated with:

- One-man rule
- A non-participating board
- An unbalanced top team
- A lack of management depth
- A weak finance function

The public and not-for-profit sector has seen its share of collapse and scandal – and in deed many of those symptoms (and causes) listed. Not long ago there was the Barnsley College trial which highlighted some of the problems.

While public services reform is ongoing (and vital), there remains the need to strengthen governance in public services.

Public services need strong leadership – but not the all-powerful strong Leader.

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