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Harvard Kennedy School

Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies That Produce Results

HKS Driving Government Performance with Bob Behn

Next dates

Sep 22—27
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9100
USD 1516 per day
Mar 22—27, 2020
6 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9100
USD 1516 per day




Results, results, results.

That's what citizens expect from their public executives ... and they expect those results now.

But given limited resources and flexibility, how can you achieve such improvements? What approaches will prove effective in what circumstances? And how can it be measured in a way that motivates both employees and collaborators?

Unfortunately, there is no universal model, no miraculous equation. Every agency is unique and faces its own challenges when trying to fix its performance deficits. However, a coherent collection of leadership strategies for government does exist. And they have—with the necessary adaptations—proven effective in a wide variety of organizations.

Performance Leadership Strategies in Government

Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies that Produce Results is a one-week executive education program that introduces public executives to a diverse set of proven strategies that produce results. Under the guidance of Harvard Kennedy School Professor Bob Behn, a performance leadership expert, you'll analyze these principles and learn how to adapt them to improve organizational operation.

Driving Government Performance will provide you with:

  • An understanding of the results your organization needs to produce to achieve its purpose
  • A set of proven leadership strategies for government to produce those results and improve performance
  • An opportunity to learn from and interact with Harvard faculty
  • A lasting network of peers with similar backgrounds and experience


Driving Government Performance is a one-week executive program that introduces a number of core principles and explicit strategies that public executives can adapt in a variety of complex circumstances to achieve specific performance improvements.

The program is not about creating rigid performance systems. Rather, it focuses on how you can work within existing legal and policy mandates to adapt proven strategies to inspire people to produce results that citizens value. Class analyses, team meetings and informal discussions with colleagues and faculty will deepen your leadership repertoire and contribute to an engaging learning environment.

The Driving Government Performance curriculum focuses on:

  • Choosing and producing results: How to decide what goals to set and what strategies to develop in order to achieve them
  • Seizing and creating opportunities: How to recognize and shape events and attitudes to build operational capabilities
  • Measuring performance: How to use specific performance targets and measure results, then use those measures to improve performance and accomplish even more
  • Motivating individuals and energizing teams: How to inspire employees and collaborators to pursue public purposes with dedication and creativity

Driving Government Performance not only advances your individual knowledge of performance leadership—a web of interrelated ideas, concepts and principles about results, strategy, motivation and leadership. It also creates that knowledge for the entire class of senior executives. Thus, when you and your peers return to your agencies, you will face the challenge not only of teaching your staff the knowledge you have acquired, but also the helping your leadership team to build its own collective knowledge.

Who should attend

Driving Government Performance is designed for senior executives with the explicit operational responsibility for producing results and improving performance in public agencies. This program recruits high-impact leaders who have a subtle appreciation for the nuances of organizational and human behavior as well as the management skills necessary to put the ideas and philosophy of performance leadership into action.

Recommended applicants include:

  • Senior public executives serving in U.S. federal, state, and local governments
  • Leaders in nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations that deliver public services
  • Senior executives from outside of the U.S.

For international applicants, please note that the cases used to illustrate the principles of performance leadership come from experiences in the U.S.

Other public officials may find the leadership concepts and performance principles useful in their current position. Such officials include: political assistants to elected executives who seek to understand the strategies that they can employ to help the agencies in their jurisdiction to ratchet up their performance; legislators who seek to develop new approaches that the legislative branch can utilize to help improve the performance of individual agencies. These officials should recognize, however, that the curriculum has been created to address the strategic challenges facing senior executives who have the moral and political obligation to exercise the leadership necessary to produce real results.


Robert D. Behn, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, focuses his research, teaching, and thinking on the leadership challenge of improving the performance of public agencies. He is the faculty chair of the School's executive program, Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies that Produce...


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