State of the service

Leadership in the APS

2014-15 State of the Service Report – Leadership

The importance of developing APS leadership and management capabilities has been well documented, including in previous State of the Service reports. Leaders establish the strategic direction of their agencies and the broader APS. They are central to effective change management and critical in mobilising the workforce to achieve its best.

Results from the APS employee census show that the gains made in 2014 in relation to senior leadership quality, visibility and communication were maintained in 2015. In 2015, 52% of APS employees agreed the senior leadership in their agency was of a high quality, the same result as 2014 and up from 46% in 2013. Likewise, in 2015, 50% of employees believed their senior leaders were sufficiently visible and 42% agreed that communication between their senior leaders and other employees was effective. These results are similar to those achieved in 2014 (49% and 41% respectively) and an improvement on results from 2013 (47% and 38% respectively).

Agencies identified workforce planning, communication and change management as three areas where improved leadership capability is required.

Employee perceptions of the effectiveness of their immediate supervisors remained high in 2015. Satisfaction with immediate supervisors is one of the key strengths of the APS. The APS employee census measures satisfaction with immediate supervisor performance against 10 capabilities. Results for 2012 to 2015 show a high degree of stability.

Previous posts on immediate supervisors and senior leaders provide additional insight into employee perceptions of leadership in the APS.

  • “Employee satisfaction with immediate supervisors is a key strength of the APS.”

As previously noted, Senior Executive Service (SES) officers typically have a more positive view of most aspects of the workplace when compared to other employees. Results from the 2015 employee census show that SES have overwhelmingly positive perceptions of their immediate supervisors, with 87% reporting that they have a good immediate supervisor. Employees at other levels also report largely positive perceptions of their immediate supervisor and the encouragement they receive from them, however the results are lower than for SES officers.

Figure 1.

Perceptions of immediate supervisors

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 1.

Employees (% agree)


Figure 1. is a bar chart showing

There is recognition across the APS for the need to invest in developing leadership capability and this is one of the priority development areas identified in the APS Leadership and Core Skills Strategy 2014-15 Refresh. Developing leadership capability is essential to enable the APS to continue performing its role supporting government and citizens to the highest standard in the current and long-term business environment. This environment is characterised by a drive for improved productivity, a drive for improved efficiency and effectiveness and transformational change. Effective leadership in such an environment requires political nous, strategic thinking, people and interaction skills, anticipating future change and enabling organisations and people to proactively manage change before circumstances force change upon them.

The Commission’s Strategic Centre for Leadership, Learning and Development (the Strategic Centre) was established to improve leadership development and talent management across the APS, enhance core and management skills learning, and improve the efficiency of the APS learning and development system. Read more information about the Leadership and Talent Management Programs offered by the Strategic Centre.

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Read the State of the Service Report 2014–15 on the APSC website.