Applying Strategic Things for Government Operations – Nu Leadership Series

“ Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.”
Warren G. Bennis

Why doesn’t the federal sector engage in more strategic thinking in its operations? Clearly, the average American can witness strategic thinking in a war or other military combat. As a manager with over 17 years of management experiences, I have seen various types of organizational structures. Clearly, the federal system is an intriguing investigation for any organization behavior expert. In a bureaucratic structure, large organizations control employees by giving leader legitimate power and standardizing work processes. Bureaucratic leaders influence employees primarily on their legality of authority and the right to issue commands.

Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel, who are leadership experts, denote strategy as a plan, pattern, position, or direction. On the contrary, it is my theory that bureaucracies are often shortsighted in strategic thinking. Don’t get me wrong. Bureaucracies have plenty of plans and consistency. However, they fall short on focus.

Let me expand on this concept. Wacker, Taylor, & Means, authors of The Visionary’s Handbook, argue that intrinsic worth disappears as a measuring stick when circumstances change. In the federal environment, politics are high stakes. The top power positions change between 2-4 years.

How does an organization maintain a consistent vision when the key leadership change as often as changing an automobile tire? Therefore, any long lasting change flows upward until it reaches the right champion and the right climate. Leaders need to possess vision and think strategically even in a federal system.


Bass, B. (1999). Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership. New York: The Free Press.
Mintzberg, H. Ahlstrand, B. & Lampel, J. New York: The Free Press.

Wacker, W., Taylor, J., & Means, H. (2000). New York: HarperBusiness.

Wren, D. (2005). The Evolution of Management Thought. Hooboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green