Global Government Leaders’ Forum

30 January 2020

The Global Government Leaders’ Forum brings civil service leaders from around the world to Singapore to debate issues around leadership, organisational change, policy development and service delivery for a half-day conference for senior managers from Singapore and neighbouring countries.


About the event

Leading the Civil Service in the 2020s

Around the globe, civil service leaders recognise that leadership styles must change.

Traditional approaches to civil service leadership have encouraged a hierarchical, top-down management style. They’ve focused on vertical accountabilities, rather than looking outwards to other departments and into the community. They’ve prioritised policymaking and ‘generalist’ management skills over specialist professional expertise. And they’ve expected civil servants to make key decisions internally, drawing on formal consultation processes, rather than involving key stakeholders and the wider public directly in the development of new policies and services.

But in the modern world, this approach is no longer effective. The economic, social and environmental problems faced by governments demand close partnership working by officials, reaching across departmental boundaries. The new tools available to civil servants – notably digital technologies and ‘big data’ – require collaborative, iterative approaches to project development that sit awkwardly with established processes. The innovation necessary to adapt to an ever faster-moving environment calls for both fresh approaches to experimentation and risk management, and new forms of engagement with citizens, businesses and third sector organisations. And these days, talented employees want the autonomy and authority to make a real difference in their working lives: to get results, leaders must empower rather than direct them.

So civil service leaders are developing new approaches to management, working towards a more connected, collaborative and innovative civil service. And while the top executives must lead by example, their success will depend on transforming attitudes to leadership throughout their organisations. This event will identify the personal characteristics, working methods and management styles that civil service leaders will require during the 2020s in two key fields of government operations– and explore how they can be developed.

Featuring speeches and panel debates by senior leaders from Singapore and overseas, the Forum will comprise two main sessions along with time for networking. Each of these sessions will focus on how an over-arching issue is best addressed within a field of civil service operations – with one examining an aspect of internal reform and organisational development, and the other a field of public policymaking and service delivery.

The over arching event topic will be ‘Leading the Civil Service in the 2020s’. The reform and development session will focus on digital transformation, and the policies and services session on environmental sustainability.


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30 January 2020, Singapore