Outcomes should Count what Counts and not what can be Counted
Outcomes are not just about quantitative Key Performance Indicators that can be easily counted. Trust, legitimacy and public satisfaction often go much deeper than numerical statistical data.
An outcome is a product resulting from an action, process, or system. A point that you may well now be starting to appreciate is that this will depend very much on the context of leadership (for example, is it focused on financial targets, process measures or broader public interest measures) and the mechanisms adopted (for example, a top-down directive approach or a collective, participative approach). For Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), this will often draw on big (easy to measure data) rather than the less tangible (but critical) public value outcomes. The context and mechanisms of leadership will determine the assessment for outcome patterns. Organisations may very well hit the target, but miss the point
There is no ‘one-best-way’ approach to leadership as it very much depends upon both the context and the situation. As the history of leadership thinking illustrates, a popular way of thinking about leadership is through behavioural approaches. We may be able to make easier distinctions between different behaviours in exploring the impact on satisfaction and productivity. The research evidence for this is, however, weak. It is not possible to identify a universal leadership style. The links between leadership styles and outcomes are much more complicated than this. Whilst leadership behaviours are essential; there are other factors at play. We need to understand and appreciate these other factors, which is why realistic application and evaluation of leadership has real promise.
The critical leadership factor to find is the ability to influence outcomes and achieve goals. It is not just about direct control. As we noted in the earlier topic about mechanisms, inspiration is unobservable. We can say the same about influence. Just as inspiration is an outcome of personal leadership behaviour, so is influence; both are outcomes. Inspiration is infused, whereas influence impacts directly (either positively or negatively). The result of public leaders behaviours will be inspired and influenced both by their leadership style (within differing contexts) and what they do (the mechanisms they deploy or adapt). In relational approaches, influence will thus lead to the outcome of personal impact. From an organisational perspective, the cumulation of positive influence and inspiration will result in legitimacy (the extent to which the majority accepts the collective leaderships’ right to lead) and trust. Both legitimacy and trust are vital components of the final P of our NPL framework, creating and demonstrating public value.
Explore the four underpinning Ps of NPLs outcomes before we look at public leadership’s overall outcome, which is the public value (Summarised in the aside narrative to the right). When you have reviewed the four underpinning Ps’, have a go at the E-learning activity to the right, which will give you an overview of what public value means. It allows you to test your understanding at the end (the activity will last a maximum of 15 minutes).
Four Outcomes of NPL
Programmes plan either a single or series of future events. Often accompanied by related measures or activities, they tend to focus on a particular medium or long-term aim. The term originates from early 17th century (in the sense of ‘written notice’). It thus aims to bridge the gap between the shared purpose (context) and policy, practice, problem solving and pedagogy (mechanisms) in delivering public value.
A programme is a deliberate means of taking forward a course of action and each can be evaluated. Programmes are viewed as a public statement of intent. Most programmes will include an itinerary, plan and schedule of what will be definitely undertaken and how its implementation will be evaluated.
Take one topical example:
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, most nations have introduced a programme of vaccination. The medium-term aim is to protect the most vulnerable members of society and, by doing this, prevent the spread of the virus across the wider population. This is a shared global aim, a point that is made by the World Health Organisation. It is viewed as the greatest global leadership challenge of current living generations. From a contextual perspective, this is a major task for all global leaders. Some national leaders have taken a more proactive approach than others (leadership style). In some countries, policies and practices have been devised based on identifying risk (problemitisation) and managing this risk is being supported by critical and wide-ranging training and development (all four mechanisms). The programme of vaccination is an outcome of the policies and practice which are seeking to alter the patterns of infection and the tragic consequences of the virus. The ultimate aim, however, is to eradicate the virus. This would be the creation and (through evaluation) demonstration of public value outcomes.
Of relevance to leadership is the meaning of ‘patterns’; how these are identified and why and what leaders do in terms of responding to emerging patterns. Everything that we do, and everything that we see, is determined by patterns. We are determined by patterns (our DNA). Understanding emerging patterns is critical to understanding leadership from a systemic viewpoint. Complex adaptive systems are patterned (as highlighted in the earlier session on whole systems).
Patterns will emerge naturally through universal aspects of nature but will also arise as a result of human precession or intervention (altering patterns by slow or rapid change). Patterns can both influence and determine future change. Hopefully, this change will be positive and can act as an exemplar for others to replicate. Some patterns and change will be negative. There is also a need to be aware that change will work in different ways in different contexts.
Responding to patterns is represented by what is described in a further section of this portal (LINKS360) as the intelligent leadership process.
A further outcome of effective public leadership is that of ‘personal impact’. Traditional leadership theory and language has tended to focus on the individual whereas public leadership focuses primarily on the collective. However, the individual lies at the heart of collective activity and another aspect of collective leadership is that of relationships. The strength of the relationship between the leader and the follower will often determine the impact of leadership activities. The concept of performance traditionally holds more weight when considered within the individual domain as opposed to the collective (patterns and products). The difficulty is in the assessment of performance of individuals is that this is often undertaken in the complete absence of understanding or appreciating the context within which leaders are leading.
A product is often associated with an article of substance (for example, something that is manufactured). It is also descriptive of an outcome that is the result of an action or process” (for example, a leadership mechanism within differing contexts). The former is more appropriate in the for-profit sector (for example, in manufacturing where the product is likely to be a tangible and visible outcome). In terms of leadership within the not-for-profit sectors, the product is likely to be more about the result of an action or process rather then it’s production. This would include the quality of service delivery, for example in health and social care or community safety. In such cases, the product may be represented by the quality of the services delivered (whether response times, processes and clinical and safety outcomes). This is an important component of public value.
Being ‘fit for purpose’ is one of the ways of defining quality, and this is a good starting point in understanding the common denominators between physical products and less visible services. Quality thus relates to both personal dispositions, as well as actions taken and highlights the importance of balanced performance measures. This aligns and supports the core ‘P’, which is that of public value representing the all-embracing outcome of leading in the public interest.
Understanding Public Value
Having explored the four outcomes for New Public Leadership, we now focus on the over-arching outcome which is the creation and demonstration of public value. You have the option to explore how to understand public value by following the 15 minute e-learning activity below.
CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO START A BRIEF E-LEARNING ACTIVITY
When you have finished the e-activity, read the brief summary in the aside narrative (to the right) and then return to the reflective questions below.
Reflect on Public Value Outcomes
In what ways ...
- is the outcome of public leadership a public value?
- is public leadership a public good?
- is public leadership reflective of the not-for-profit sector?
- does the for-profit sector reflect public value?
- do public values focus on collective social conditions?
Exploring Public Value
We hope that you found the brief e-learning activity helpful in trying to understand the concept of public value. The creation and demonstration of public value is of critical importance to the collective leadership framework underpinned by new public leadership. We provide some brief reflective questions for you to consider. This page will then illustrate the key components of public value. You will then have the opportunity to explore how public value defines the overall outcome of public leadership before bringing this section to a close in aligning this conceptual collective leadership framework to the operational model in which collective leadership can be practised and evaluated. A detailed topic session is available in the Knowledge and Practice Hub.
Public value is also used to describe the value an organisation contributes to society, whether it is public, private, or nor for profit.
Public values are the values that apply to public organisations, such as transparency, accountability, and the right to due process. Private and not for profit organisations may choose to follow these values, but it is essential that public organisations follow them.
Public value as a high-level outcome of collective leadership
The focus on creating and demonstrating public value comprises three synergetic sub-systems, illustrated in figure 1: social value (which is community focused), economic value (which is investment focused) and political value (which is managerially focused).
Figure 1: Synergetic systems of public value
There are three crucial elements to the operational concept of public value (Moore, 1995) in defining its practice. The first is what is described as social goals, the second relates to the way in which those goals are secured through organisational capability and the third relies upon this delivery building both trust and legitimacy. These elements are illustrated in figure 2.
Figure 2: Operational Elements of Public Value
In summary …
Public value seeks to incorporate and integrate into public management aspects of performance that may be harder to measure. This includes those that deliver a social, economic, or political value that is not always immediately quantifiable through other means. It also aims to identify and measure how services are currently delivering added value, how this might be improved and the potential obstacles to improvement, and by engaging users, citizens, public managers and stakeholder organisations in an iterative process. This provides an opportunity to incorporate citizen, users and stakeholder needs and visions through participation and engagement in a dialogue with public managers alongside the interest of the latter in efficiency, economy and effectiveness.
Hover over each of the links to see which page it links to