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Journal of Public Affairs Education

Review

Review of The Trusted Leader: Building the Relationships That Make Government Work by Terry Newell, Grant Reeher, and Peter Ronayne Review by Alexis A. Halley University of Illinois Springfield The Trusted Leader: Building the Relationships That Make Government Work is a unique collection of 15 essays that collectively call upon career civil service leaders to deliberately foster effective relationships that form the social capital on which rests the long-term confidence in American democracy. The book is at once an invitation to dialogue, a normative stance on the microdynamics of career civil service leadership, and a practical guide about how to foster trust and confidence between the governing and the governed, between the citizen and public officials (p. 308). The audience is primarily the federal career civil servant, though the arguments and insights are asserted to apply with equal force at the state and local level (p. 9). Most of the essays focus on the “how-to’s” of specific horizontal or vertical relationships and are written by authors currently or formerly affiliated with the Federal Executive Institute (FEI). The authors of the lead essays are also the editors of the book. Newell and Ronayne are former deans of faculty at FEI and former directors of the FEI Leadership for a Democratic Society program. Reeher is both an associate professor at the Maxwell School and adjunct faculty at FEI. Many of the authors of the how-to essays are senior or adjunct faculty of the FEI with additional affiliations at universities and consulting firms. The careful reader thus may wonder if the content of essays authored by individuals with FEI experience reflects what they teach federal executives at FEI. The FEI is an organization with a 40-plus-year distinguished history of building mostly federal career civil service leadership capacity (Halley, 2010). FEI is now institutionally located in the Human Resource Solutions division of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Though The Trusted Leader is careful to assert that the views of the essayists do not represent any official JPAE, 17(1), 151–157 Journal of Public Affairs Education 151

Review of The Trusted Leader endorsement of the OPM or the FEI, the institutional affiliation of many essayists with the FEI may be an important backdrop against which to understand its origins and the curriculum potentials and limitations these essays offer for MPA students and other readers. For example, the book’s theme, “Trusted Leadership for Federal Service,” headlined a 2008 forum cosponsored by the FEI, the FEIAA (alumni association), the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), and George Washington University (Pettibone, 2008). At the forum, two of the book’s author-editors (Newell and Ronayne) led a panel discussion about how federal executives need to build relationships that work to become trusted leaders. At that same forum, Pettibone reports that a panel of three distinguished FEI alumni spoke of how their experiences at FEI helped them to become trusted leaders. Can The Trusted Leader essays be used to create similar experiences for Master of Public Administration (MPA) students? And does knowledge of the FEI connection matter? The Trusted Leader has a conceptual framework and definite assumptions. This reviewer’s understanding of that framework is outlined next. The book is then evaluated, primarily by placing it in context of a larger literature. Finally, opportunities and challenges of using The Trusted Leader as a primary text in both a face-to-face and a fully online semester-long MPA capstone seminar as well as in other MPA courses are considered. Thesis and Assumptions of The Trusted Leader In the introduction, the three author-editors define trust as a foundational confidence among citizens, including government workers themselves, that government agencies and the people who work in them will act in a reasonably consistent way to promote their shared values and interests and respond to their long-term needs and wants (p. 10). They go on to argue that public trust in the civil service and career civil service leaders is under stress, especially as value conflicts in society intensify (p. 5). Their central thesis is that career leaders are important actors in turning the trust deficit around, or at the very least not further eroding public trust in government. They assert: Most efforts to improve government have focused on macro-level changes in new policies, programs, structures, and systems. We argue that comparable emphasis on the micro-level change efforts to build shared values, effective relationships, and therefore enhancing trust has been lacking. (p. 9) … Career leaders in government who can build relationships that produce trust have met a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for leading democracy. (p. 13) 152 Journal of Public Affairs Education

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