The government must develop collaborative enterprise leaders to solve its ‘wicked’ problems, new book suggests

Global climate change. Counterterrorism. Food safety. Oil spills.

The American public looks to the federal government to successfully respond to and solve our “wicked” problems. Complex, cross-cutting national challenges like these are no longer the exception to the rule, but are the new normal.


“These challenges, both fleeting and enduring, require a new kind of leader and a new kind of leadership development approach,” the pair write in the book’s opening chapter. “These challenges require a type of leader who understands that tackling wicked government problems requires building and drawing upon a network of critical organizational and individual actors, no matter where they may reside.

“They require a type of leader who can encourage and facilitate collaboration by leveraging shared values and interests to achieve a resolution that is greater than the sum of individual actions. We call individuals who are imbued with or have developed such abilities ‘enterprise leaders,’ and they are increasingly in demand.”

The authors note there is no single “silver bullet” strategy that guarantees the development of enterprise leaders. Rather, they suggest a variety of approaches and methods are available, some of which are easy and relatively low-cost to implement, while others require breaking existing paradigms of leadership development.