Are you Management or Executive Material?

By: Lewis Stratton


The differences between management and leadership, and the relationship between them, have been the subject of ongoing discussion and esoteric argument. Opinion and theory abound, but for those of us that want to manage effectively, how to we go about developing the knowledge and skill base required?

To their credit, the South Australian Public Sector (SAPS), through the Office of Public Employment (OPE), have identified a range of middle management and executive leadership competencies that are considered essential to the effective operation of government departments and services. For those of us who are mere mortals, these competencies provide some useful directions for our own personal and professional development.

The definition of competencies adopted by SAPS originates from the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA), which states, “a competency is the specific knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviour applied within an occupation or industry to the standard required in employment”.

SAPS Middle Manager Competencies

OPE have identified 9 “Core Competencies” for all public sector middle managers, these being:

  • Maintain and enhance confidence in public service
  • Apply government systems
  • Manage compliance with legislation in the public sector
  • Manage policy implementation
  • Manage resources
  • Manage quality client service
  • Influence workforce effectiveness
  • Establish and maintain strategic networks
  • Manage personal work priorities and professional development

    This foundation is ideally supplemented by other generic middle manager competencies, which are identified as:

  • Formulate business strategies
  • Undertake research and analysis
  • Recruit, select and induct staff
  • Facilitate people management
  • Manage budgets and financial plans
  • Procure goods and services
  • Develop a business case
  • Manage risk
  • Manage innovation and continuous improvement
  • Provide strategic direction

    It is interesting to see that the competencies address a range of administrative, planning and leadership elements within the role of middle manager. Not every middle manager will utilise each of these generic competencies in any given role. However, if you have an eye to becoming more “job ready” as a manager, it would be wise to look for opportunities to build and consolidate these competencies. The competencies could provide a basis of discussion and/or negotiation with your manager, with a view to your development as a professional. If your employer has an established performance management system in place, this is an ideal forum in which to explore opportunities for learning and growth.

    SAPS Executive Leadership Competencies

    There is an obvious increased emphasis on leadership, self-knowledge and self-development at the executive level in the SAPS. The SAPS has identified 6 Executive Leadership Competencies, described as:

  • Creates Vision and Gives Direction
  • Develops People
  • Manages Resources and Risk
  • Promotes and Achieves Quality Outcomes
  • Understands Relationships
  • Manages and Develops Self

    The Executive Leadership Competencies are firmly premised on having a sound strategic overview of the environment and utilising available resources (including human resources) to achieve the goals of the organisation.

    So What?

    The competencies identified by SAPS are but one way of describing the requirements of effective leaders and managers. However, they are a very useful indication of the kind of personal and professional capacities that you will need if you are to pursue a career in middle management or high-level leadership. For more information on SAPS Middle Manager Competencies visit the relevant pages at the OPE website. More information about the SAPS Executive Leadership Competencies can be found here.

    Other Resources

    Are you interested in more information on First Line Management Competencies? This section of the OPE website will be of assistance to you.

    © 2006 Lewis Stratton. All Rights Reserved.