Dec 3, 2020

Leadership Plays an Important Role in Economic Reform Program Cycle

Mr. Zoran Zeljko is a Director of the Directorate for Economic Planning in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has attended several learning events as part of the EU funded multi-country project “Strengthening Line Ministries’ Capacities to Assess Fiscal Implications of Structural Reforms” (FISR). He joined us also earlier this year in Bled, Slovenia, to discuss with his peer colleagues how the complex process of development, costing and budgeting of their respective Economic Reform Program can be successfully led. The latter is very closely linked to effective communication with a variety of experts and types of personalities across the line ministries and the ability to motivate and engage key stakeholders. In this context, Mr. Zeljko believes the preparation process of the Economic Reform Program can be regarded as a leadership act. Here are some reflections that he further shares on the topic.

At the beginning of March 2020, I participated in a workshop Regional Networking for Structural Reforms organized by the CEF in Bled, Slovenia. On the last day of the event, we attended a lecture at the IEDC-Bled School of Management, where Professor Drikus Kriek talked about team building, leadership, and change management for the coordinators of the Economic Reform Program (ERP).

The lecture did not directly touch upon the technical aspects of drafting the ERP, the articulation of public policies, or the costing of reforms. My first thought was that the intention of the lecture was to move away from the day-to-day management of the technical process and look at the broader picture of management in public administration.

During the lecture, I began to think that we, ERP coordinators, are too burdened with bureaucratic procedures and therefore often neglect that the process of drafting ERPs is largely a challenge of change management and leadership.

This knowledge was important to me because in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a fiscally and politically decentralized state, many challenges are not merely technical in nature but are much more complex and include the aspects of intergovernmental cooperation, shared competencies, etc.

In such case, a broader approach is needed. The goal should not only be enforcing new technical procedures but rather achieving strategic coordination and understanding the roles of coordinators.

Thanks to the lecture, we adapted our approach to the challenge of coordination. At the moment, together with the CEF, we are trying to improve the links between the fiscal framework and structural reforms in the specific Bosnian and Herzegovinan environment of fiscal federalism through a mentoring subproject.

My conclusion is that the academic lectures provided through this project by Professor Kriek and Professor Peters proved to be useful as a stimulus for broader thinking, and can also serve as a guide for more creative approaches in problem-solving or adapting projects to local specifics, where the CEF, in my humble opinion, succeeds very well.