Leadership and the Independent Regulator

Being a utility regulator has perils because the independence of the regulator necessarily
removes power from politicians, operators, and others. Furthermore, regulators are
sometimes scapegoats for unpopular policies and unavoidably become involved in
shaping the policies that they are supposed to implement. As a result of such frictions,
regulators are sometimes removed from office or marginalized in some way. How can
regulators not only survive in such an environment, but also thrive? This paper describes
a leadership concept called adaptive leadership that regulators can use to help their
countries adapt to new policies and changing situations, while allowing the regulator to
stay in the game. The first leadership skill discussed is the ability to get on the balcony to
see what is really going on with operators, politicians, consumers, and others. Once this
perspective is obtained, then the regulator can engage stakeholders in an adaptive process
in which people make necessary changes to traditions and expectations, while hanging on
to the things that are truly important. Regulators can do this by bringing attention to
problems that people want to ignore because they involve difficult trade-offs, providing
certainty and stability when tensions become too high for work to be done, and keeping
attention focused on the work and the issues.


Jamison, Mark A.

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