Bureaucracy, multiple agencies, information overload and outdated technical systems can all contribute to ineffective government. But the best-designed structures will fail if the leadership culture resists collaboration.

CCL’s Bill Adams, like many, is concerned about the security implications of government agencies working in silos and failing to collaborate. In a column that appeared in The Washington Post, Adams wrote, “To connect the dots and avert future attempts at terrorism, our government leaders must develop the boundary-spanning skills to lead a complex national security structure.”

Several leadership skills are particularly crucial for fostering effective collaboration, Adams explained:

“Slow down to power up.” When leaders and teams slow down action, conversation and decision-making at critical times, they can address challenges at the root level. Slowing down at first will save time over the long run by reducing missteps due to poor communications and faulty assumptions.

Change your organizational culture. Political appointees and top senior executives must understand their agencies’ leadership culture. Is it open and receptive to outside influence and collaboration, or is it closed and insular? Agencies may need to change their leadership culture — the self-reinforcing web of individual and collective beliefs and practices.

Cultivate leadership talent. Government agencies must intentionally design and implement the strategies, culture, systems and processes needed to sustain talent. Development planning is a critical component of an effective succession-management strategy and should include a strong talent-review process.

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