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Developing Leadership in the Public Sector

The Irish public service needs to focus on the development of management and leadership practices that will significantly contribute to the economic recovery of the country. That was the message from a Teagasc seminar on the current challenges and opportunities for the development of leadership practices within the public sector, taking place in Dublin today, Friday 13 July.

At the seminar Teagasc is launching two new programmes for the organisation, one in the area of Leadership Development and the other in the area of Management Development. The seminar is being chaired by Georgina Corscadden, IMI Leadership Specialist, with contributions from Baroness Nuala O’Loan, Governor, NUI Maynooth, Shay Cody, General Secretary, IMPACT, Professor Patrick Flood and Dr Yseult Freeney, DCU on the subject of leadership and employee engagement.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc said: “The services delivered by the public service are in extremely high demand at a time when exchequer funding and staff numbers have significantly reduced. Teagasc has experienced a 26% reduction in its staffing level since 2008. Despite this it has worked to maintain its advisory service to farmers, cope with an increase in student numbers in agriculture and horticultural colleges and maintain a research pipeline for the agriculture and food industry. The challenge for Teagasc is how can it’s leadership and management practices be developed to allow it to exploit, for the benefit of the national economy, the significant economic opportunities arising from a buoyant farming and food sector.”

Head of Human Resources in Teagasc, Alan Phelan said: “The staff of Teagasc have responded to the radical organisational changes required to maintain frontline services to the industry. They have embraced the new working arrangements that have emanated from the closure of 40% of advisory offices around the country and new delivery models for service delivery required to cope with a reduction in staffing by a quarter.”

Teagasc has taken steps to ensure its managers and leaders are trained and equipped to cope with the challenges and opportunities that arise. As part of the Teagasc People, Leadership and Change (PLC) strategy, two programmes have been put in place, one in the area of leadership in conjunction with the IMI, and another in the area of management practice in partnership with Pathway. Both of these programmes will help ensure that Teagasc staff will have the tools and ideas to enable them to demonstrate leadership at all levels in the organisation and to manage programmes that deliver value for Teagasc clients.

At the seminar the significant progress that is being made within Teagasc in delivering on the savings and efficiencies required under the Croke Park Agreement are being outlined. The launch of the leadership and management development programmes demonstrates an investment by Teagasc in its staff to meet future challenges and opportunities in the interests of the sustainable economic development of the country.