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Leading with humility in tumultuous times: evidence from the United States

Leading with humility in tumultuous times: evidence from the United States Wicked problems, cross-sectoral and transregional collaborations, emerging technologies and calls for innovation generate exciting but unpredictable transformations in governance. Emerging research suggests humility, rather than certitude, represents a promising ethos for public leaders working to solve problems in tumultuous times. This study examines the nature, value and practice of humility in public administration (PA) leadership.Design/methodology/approachThis study reviews cross-disciplinary research on the nature and value of humility and emerging findings and debates on humility assessment measures. It analyzes discourse among graduate students in US PA classes and uses ethnographic analysis from workshops with local government leaders to identify institutional dynamics that may influence leaders' willingness to act with humility.FindingsFindings suggest that although PA students and leaders may value humility, they encounter institutional constraints related to public sector legitimacy and narratives about expertise and risk. The author proposes a framework to guide future research and practice in humility and public leadership.Research limitations/implicationsPotential constraints emerged from a modest study of courses and workshops; further research is required to test the prevalence of themes across public leadership environments.Practical implicationsPublic leaders, teachers and coaches may apply these practices and assessment measures to cultivate humility in PA classes and organizations.Originality/valueThis study is among the first to explore leadership humility with attention to how PA context may influence practice. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Public Leadership Emerald Publishing

Leading with humility in tumultuous times: evidence from the United States

International Journal of Public Leadership , Volume 16 (3): 13 – Jul 31, 2020

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References (61)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-4929
DOI
10.1108/ijpl-03-2020-0020
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Wicked problems, cross-sectoral and transregional collaborations, emerging technologies and calls for innovation generate exciting but unpredictable transformations in governance. Emerging research suggests humility, rather than certitude, represents a promising ethos for public leaders working to solve problems in tumultuous times. This study examines the nature, value and practice of humility in public administration (PA) leadership.Design/methodology/approachThis study reviews cross-disciplinary research on the nature and value of humility and emerging findings and debates on humility assessment measures. It analyzes discourse among graduate students in US PA classes and uses ethnographic analysis from workshops with local government leaders to identify institutional dynamics that may influence leaders' willingness to act with humility.FindingsFindings suggest that although PA students and leaders may value humility, they encounter institutional constraints related to public sector legitimacy and narratives about expertise and risk. The author proposes a framework to guide future research and practice in humility and public leadership.Research limitations/implicationsPotential constraints emerged from a modest study of courses and workshops; further research is required to test the prevalence of themes across public leadership environments.Practical implicationsPublic leaders, teachers and coaches may apply these practices and assessment measures to cultivate humility in PA classes and organizations.Originality/valueThis study is among the first to explore leadership humility with attention to how PA context may influence practice.

Journal

International Journal of Public LeadershipEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 31, 2020

Keywords: Humility; Administration; Leadership; Organization

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