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Leadership practices of high -level career administrators in Nebraska state government

Joseph M Stefkovich, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this qualitative collective case study was to describe how three high-level career administrators in Nebraska state government understand the practice of leadership in a managerial role. The following questions guided the study: (1) How do the administrators: (a) set direction, (b) motivate employees, and (c) describe relationships internal and external to the organization? (2) What challenges to leading do the administrators identify? (3) What preparation for leadership do the three administrators describe? (4) How does time-in-position influence the administrators' leadership? ^ Two of three administrators had never considered that they exercised leadership. However, they were considered effective leaders by officials and could describe practices that contributed to effective leadership. ^ Statutory purpose of the agency and division, not visioning, was the foundation for administrator direction setting. Most of the projects they led were given to them by the legislature or other authorities. Administrators of smaller organizations relied more on informal direction setting processes. ^ Herzberg' et al. (1959) Motivation-Hygiene theory was salient to the administrators' descriptions of motivation. Recognition, involvement, empowerment, and the work itself were identified as primary motivators. ^ Internal relationships were described as built on common social factors or had a strong task/outcome orientation. Outside relationships were described as facilitating exchanges necessary to the work. They were also described as situational (1) to the relative hierarchical relationship of those involved and (2) to purpose: customer or service provider. ^ Resistance to change was identified as the most significant challenge to leadership. Resistance was more pronounced with internal change efforts in which employees thought they could influence the change effort. Employees were more resigned to change efforts having an external origin. Administrators overcame resistance through communication and involvement. ^ The administrators' preparation for leadership was based on experience, observing other leaders, and formal and work related education. This is consistent with prior research. ^ Time-in-position was not mentioned as influencing leadership practices. ^ Contemporary literature on leadership was used to explain the administrators' descriptions of leadership in their managerial-leader role. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, Public Administration

Recommended Citation

Stefkovich, Joseph M, "Leadership practices of high -level career administrators in Nebraska state government" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3117809.