Leader/Follower Relationships in Local Government

After completing my first week interning in the Accounting Department of the Office of the Nassau County Comptroller, one of the aspects of the work environment which most apparent to me was the dynamics between directors and their subordinates throughout the office. Although I have only worked in the office for a short period of time, the unique interactions between leaders and followers clearly demonstrates on concentrated effort on the part of management to foster a collaborative environment where subordinates feel welcome to voice their opinions. So far, I have noticed the interactions between employees have been less formal than my prior experiences in other offices, and I believe this stems from the leadership style of the administration.
In one of my conversations with an employee who has worked with a number of different administrations throughout his time working for the Office of the Comptroller, he noted that the biggest difference between the previous administration and the current administration is the way in which the leaders of the office address and manage their employees. Apparently, the old Comptroller was an older gentlemen who spent his entire career in the private sector before running for public office, and he tried to instill the values of his corporate experience into his public work, which in turn created a rigid system where followers felt as if they were beneath their bosses.
The comradery between leaders and followers, as well as the level of respect and admiration shown by senior directors, clearly indicates a deviation from the rigid management style to a more open and inviting style of leadership.
Because government work is very structured by nature, I personally believe a rigid and formal style of leadership can be unnecessary, as employees are already acutely aware of their responsibilities and any unnecessary management may only serve to breed resentment amongst the followers. In addition, because it is a requirement for Nassau County employees to be residents of the county, employees already have a vested interest in the quality of their work, and I think this contributes to the need for leaders to be accommodating and allow their followers to serve their county as they best see fit.

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