Icebergs of expertise-based leadership: The role of expert leaders in public administration

Sadia Hanif, Ali Ahsan, Graham Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


There is a pressing need for public administration leaders to exhibit expertise-based intuitive leadership traits for developing countries to respond to sustainability challenges. While the importance of explicit and tacit knowledge to underpin expertise-based intuitive decisionmaking is known, public service leaders of developing countries can lack these traits. It is necessary to explore the reasons for leadership skills gaps in order to define remedial actions, such as better executive development training. This study conducts 28 in-depth interviews with public administration leaders, managers, and executive training professionals in Pakistan to address the challenge of how to build expertise-based intuitive leadership traits in public administration leaders. The main findings highlight deficiencies in domain-specific knowledge and soft skills. Deficits in the formal training of leaders and the negative contribution of cultural preconditions both result in explicit and tacit knowledge gaps that undermine expertise-based intuitive decisionmaking. An "iceberg of expertise-based leadership" model is conceptualized, extending on previous models, to describe the intangible role that explicit and tacit knowledge play in the visible expression of leadership skills. The relevance of this model for the success of public sector-led initiatives for sustainable development is highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4544
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Decision-making
  • Executive development training
  • Expertisebased decision-making
  • Intuitive leadership
  • Leadership behavior
  • Leadership skills
  • Public administration


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