Global Master of Public Policy

5 Essential Skills for Global Public Policy Leaders

Jul 15, 2016 7:30:00 AM

Public policy exists in the space where evidence-based practices and science intersect with socio-economic infrastructure, and the political will to affect change. Global leaders in public policy need to understand how these systems interact and influence one another. In order to achieve facility in public policy analysis, leaders embody and look for employees with certain skills.

USC Annenberg’s Ernest J. Wilson III describes his recent research and provides salient definitions in his Fortune article on the five skills executives need in order to succeed:

  1. Intellectual Curiosity: a deep hunger to learn and grow and a willingness to experiment in order to learn.


  1. 360-Degree Thinking: the ability to think holistically, recognize patterns, and make imaginative leaps based on those patterns.


  1. Cultural Competence: the capacity to think and act across the boundaries of functions, organizational cultures, and global cultures.


  1. Empathy: a deep emotional intelligence, closely connected to cultural competence, that enables those who possess it to see the world through others’ eyes, and understand their unique perspectives. 


  1. Adaptability: mental agility, comfort with ambiguity, and the capacity to change old behaviors in light of new evidence.


Soft skills, like empathy, are part of your emotional intelligence. This emotional intelligence made up of self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and relationship skills, is outlined in Daniel Goleman’s New York Times feature. Emotional intelligence is the key factor in career success according to research psychologists Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It plays a larger role than intellect and personality according to their research. The good news is that your emotional intelligence, like your hard skills, can be developed throughout your career and through education.


You can read Dr. Wilson’s white paper, The one-trillion dollar global talent gap: What it is, and what we can do about it for an in-depth primer on Third Space thinking.


Topics: Skills

Anna Montgomery, MPA

Written by Anna Montgomery, MPA

Anna Montgomery earned her MPA at USC Price and is pursuing her EdD at USC Rossier.