Descriptive Essay on John Neely Kennedy


John Neely Kennedy heads the Department of the Treasury in the state of Louisiana and is the custodian of the state’s funds. John Neely Kennedy has over years demonstrated leadership skills in public fund management. Major directions of leadership in the department of treasury at Louisiana are determined the states budget committee which has relatively liked minded individuals interacting among themselves and reflecting their own values and preferences in public fund management and leadership.

Kennedy considers that time and efficiency is less important than the opportunity to further subordinate development in his department. In public services it is a common phenomenon that knowledge sharing and widespread participation are considered critical to the success of the treasury department. Therefore, Kennedy is placing greater emphasis on follower development when time is not a critical issue. As Kennedy took up the new role, he knew that there were many certainties which needed good leadership skills.


Being the head of treasury department of Louisiana state government, Kennedy has over the time build confidence among those examining the state’s budget requests. While this strategy is related to the politics of budgeting, building confidence underscores Kennedy’s role as an expert, conditioning political leaders to a reality that only the head of treasury can divine. Kennedy further articulates that in building confidence and trust in the management of Louisiana state funds, the normative basis moves beyond instrumentalism and neutral competence, and the ordinary definition of expertise, to an interactive form of influence with parts equally deferential, referential, and domineering.

According to Kennedy, budgeting state funds in Louisiana frequently operates as an open system including many groups. The treasury budget committee in the state can sometimes bury decision making from outsiders to ensure a simpler affirmation of community goals and a more resolute effort to accomplish them. In cases of referenda on state bond issues, tax increases and disclosure of budget and financial reports required by various federal government legal and financial authorities Kennedy concedes to broadening public knowledge, with some participation to solve problems. He often stresses precedent, consistency, and predictability in the advice he gives and other times associates experience with issues and problems.

In the case of Louisiana’s capital investment planning, Kennedy says that participants solicit analysis of capability and then needs. Shah (2007) established that “in line with the goals and objectives leaders set, analysis of capability reveals the human, information, and capital assets, their condition and what is needed to bring them up to the capability to serve their purpose (p. 114).” Through his leadership experience, Kennedy appreciates that capital improvement planning within the state requires establishing a method for review and approval of projects (Shah, 2007).

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Kennedy has created the critical leadership and mechanisms to integrate all the state reforms and to keep the process of financial management reform moving (Guthrie, 2005). Since he is the head of treasury in the state of Louisiana, Kennedy provides leadership, policy direction and oversight of state financial management including productivity improvement, credit and asset management, cash management and ensures all the internal controls are exercised (Guthrie, 2005). The inability of many state agencies to accurately record and report financial management data at the end of the year and on an ongoing basis for oversight and decision making is a serious issue in the leadership role of Kennedy. Guthrie (2005) says that “without reliable data on costs, decision makers cannot control or reduce costs, effectively evaluate program financial performance, or direct additional resources to underprovided programs.” (p. 332).

Kennedy creates a process for continual improvement in financial management systems and ensuring that those systems routinely provide reliable and useful information on a timely basis in the Louisiana state treasury department. Guthrie (2005) says that with such information, state government leaders will be better positioned to invest scarce resources, reduce costs, oversee programs and hold agency managers accountable for the way they run state programs.

Leadership in public financial management requires the proficient resource mobilization and the shrewd and responsible usage of finances to attain end products of the highest possible quality. Leaders determine the span of monetary plans (Daft, 2008). Issues such as jobs, price increases, sourcing funds, taxes and income generating activities are put in place (Daft, 2008). McKinney (2004) noted that leaders in public funds management establish broad rules and principles ascertain that state or federal finances are used candidly and shrewdly to attain the set objectives. It is fundamental that leaders put in place provide arrangements and guidelines to efficiently conduct financial duties and obligations.

According to Hart & Uhr (2008), putting in place a rigorous leadership framework does not guarantee any change in the substance of leadership practice and good leadership could indeed potentially be the opposite of the attributes proposed given circumstances. Currently the center of attention is to envisage leadership as an important aspect of what everyone is obliged to do in the organization. It should be team focused other than being reliant on particular individuals. Leaders in public service must be engaged in a more inclusive style of leadership which comes from junior members to top members in the organization. Hart & Uhr (2008) says that previously leadership in various administrations was gauged according to the strength of departmental heads. Leadership in the public service must be deliberated depending to how healthy a state office attains the required arrangement to unite its strategies and incorporate its objectives with achievement (Hart & Uhr, 2008).

Today, the leadership emphasis of state officers such as Kennedy should be on interdepartmental cooperation and state government collaboration. In this context, Hart & Uhr (2008) says that departmental heads and senior executives are meant to operate as a team and to build trust and across state networks to facilitate smooth policy making. Leaders need to be good at dealing with dealing with unplanned change coming from any direction. Wart (2012) unfortunately noted that a great tendency to treat all the situations in which leadership is important as a single monolith, rather than to explore the ramifications of different types of leadership in different contexts with varying missions and accountability mechanisms. Public sector servants should assume a contingency approach to leadership which explains that the situations in which leaders find themselves are crucial to determining the appropriate behavior and style (Wart, 2012).

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Horizontal leadership is appropriate for state officials and public fund managers such as Kennedy (Khan & Hildreth, 2004). It is because it reduces hierarchy and emphasizes employee or follower empowerment and delegation as well as partnering relationships. Wart (2012) says that horizontal leadership tends to provide greater input, participation, adaptability, and creativity. However, it is important to balance between horizontal leadership and vertical leadership because the latter provides tighter accountability chains and efficiency.

In their research, Pendleton & Furnham (2011) indicated that leadership effectiveness is less to do with solving complex problems as much as bringing the best out of people. Therefore, it is important to note that leadership is a contact sport and therefore it more dependent on social skills than purely cognitive acumen. Pendleton, Adrian Furnham (2011) noted that it would seem reasonable to expect that intelligence would have a strong correlation with leadership effectiveness, yet the effect, is weak and accounts for no more than seven and a half percent of the variance in leadership effectiveness.

Intelligence is an important trait related to effective leadership. Northouse (2011) says that it involves possessing good communication, leadership and analysis skills. This mixture of skills makes individuals to have good reasoning abilities hence making them good leaders. While it is hard for a person to alter his/her IQ, there are various ways of intelligence improvement (Northouse, 2011). Intelligent leaders are well-informed hence it is essential for leaders to obtain information about what their leadership role entails and learn as much as possible about their work environment.


In conclusion, the management of Louisiana state funds requires integration of planning policies with other financial policies involving all interested parties and disseminating policies early in the planning process. Kennedy leadership experience plays a critical role through demonstrating a commitment to long-term financial planning objectives and through being regarded positively by the rating agencies in reviewing credit quality of the state.