Making good leaders of civil servants

RCSC: To motivate civil servants at the executive level, a training on leadership development skills will be conducted for them.

This initiative comes under one of the reforms being undertaken by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).

Today, about 150 executives and specialists holding leadership positions in the civil service, falling under the EX1, EX2 and EX3 levels, manage more than 26,000 civil servants.

RCSC chairperson, Karma Tshiteem, said good leaders could transform non-performers into performers, whereas bad leaders can damage institutions.

“There are many instances within the civil service where employees experience sudden change in their behaviour depending on their leaders,” Karma Tshiteem said. “Given this impact of leadership, grooming leaders and giving civil servants leadership skills must become a priority for our civil service.”

This reform is recognised as the single most powerful lever for change within the civil service, Karma Tshiteem said.

“There has been no investment into this important area in the civil service so far even though it is recognised as critical and as an area that yields high returns,” he said.

To crystallise the reform, a unit called Executive Management Division (EMD) with the responsibility of ensuring succession management, performance management and leadership development of all the executives and specialists in the civil service, has been set up, Karma Tshiteem said.

Under the succession management, civil servants with the relevant expertise and leadership capabilities will be selected into leadership positions by the EMD.

“An open competition to select civil servants from P1 level to move to EX3 level has also been looked into to ensure that these civil servants are selected in an executive position,” Karma Tshiteem said. “A framework is also under development, which will ensure a more strategic movement or transfer of civil servants into the executive level group.”

The EMD will also look into the performance management of an executive position where the performance of the organisation will be assessed through the Government Performance Management System.

Under leadership development, three initiatives have been identified by the EMD to develop the leadership capability of people holding the executive position, Karma Tshiteem said.

The first initiative is a two-day executive forum, which will be attended by the heads of the ministries, agencies and dzongkhags.

“It provides a platform for civil servants in leadership positions to raise issues and concerns relating to civil service,” Karma Tshiteem said.

The second initiative is to develop their expertise to ensure high performance. For this, top institutes have been identified to ensure that the leaders are exposed to the best practices. Some of the institutes include Harvard – Kennedy School of Government in the US, Australia New Zealand School of Government in Australia, IIM Ahmedabad in India, Civil Service College in Singapore and one of the Grande Ecoles in France.

“The commission is planning to send at least 15 executives to such trainings annually,” Karma Tshiteem said.

To equip leaders with the desired leadership traits, Bhutan Executive Services Training (BEST) will organise a 14-day mandatory training for all civil servants who enter the executive category at the Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (RIGSS) as the third initiative under the leadership development component.

“Each executive will have to undergo this training once in every three to four years,” Karma Tshiteem said.

To ensure that the civil servants working in an executive position have capabilities required by a leader, a leadership capability framework has also been developed by the RCSC.

However, assessing the impact of such an intervention may require some time, Karma Tshiteem said.

“If civil servants in an organisation feel motivated and galvanised into action by what their superiors are now doing differently, and more importantly, if the civil service become responsive and are able to identify and address the challenges the country is faced with, the RCSC could claim that these interventions are having the intended impact,” he said.

By Thinley Zangmo

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