This theoretical paper derives inspiration from former Czech President Vaclav Havel and lessons from “learning organizations” to guide government executives in helping develop shared meaning among constituents, interest groups and public employees. Such shared meaning is seen as a framework for policy decisions and implementation. American civil society, like learning organizations, is understood as broadly interdependent and continuously changing, with conflict both latent and overt. Leadership is defined in contrast to management and administration; government leadership is compared and contrasted with learningorganization leadership. Strengths, weaknesses and political costs of various approaches are considered. It is argued that successful publicsector leaders must adapt a “learning” style with commitment to dialogue and the openness that characterizes synchronicity and presence.

Author Bio(s)

Patsy Palmer has served on the staffs of two Florida Governors, a Florida House Speaker, a Florida Senate President and the Carter White House. She holds a Master’s degree in conflict resolution from Antioch University and a Master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. Her interests are in children’s issues, community building and the civil society. This fall, she will enter law school at The Florida State University.


civil society, communist regimes, Czechoslovakia, government leadership, learning, organization, Václav Havel (former Czech President), Velvet Revolution

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