The author has recently undertaken a review of the leadership of the public sector in the State of Western Australian (WA) for the Office of the Auditor General. This paper presents the findings of that review, and assesses the workforce planning and leadership development requirements for the public sector.

The author was asked by the Office of the Auditor General to prepare a ‘lighthouse’ report which would identify the key issues for the future of the leadership in the public service workforce in the jurisdiction, and illuminate potential future directions, as well as flagging gaps in the current data and evidence which might inform the analysis.

The paper begins with an analysis and critique of some critical issues, including recent approaches to public sector reform, the demographics of the current leadership, traditional pathways to leadership in the sector, and current and recent approaches to workforce planning and leadership development. Recent research and data gathering relating to leadership from within the sector is analysed and gaps in research and data are identified for further audit and research.

The experiences of some relevant overseas jurisdictions are reviewed and lessons are drawn which might inform local policy and practice.

One general conclusion is that there is insufficient data and research evidence to enable a definitive answer to be given to the central question – what is the current state of health of the leadership of the public sector in the jurisdiction? However, some inferences can be drawn to suggest possible future policy and practice, as well as directions for further research.

In particular, drawing on the notion of ‘transformational leadership’, and the Leadership Development Framework as developed by Rooke and Torbert (1998 & 2005) and Atkins (2005), the author flags new approaches which might be required in planning strategies for the recruitment, retention, and development of post-conventional public service leaders in the future.


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