Strategy Execution for Public Leadership

Implement a public leadership approach for long-term success.

Join Harvard Kennedy School faculty and former Pentagon Chief of Staff Eric Rosenbach to learn how to develop strategies for public leadership success.

Featuring faculty from:
May 2023
4 weeks, 4-5 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
August 2023
4 weeks, 4-5 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
Apply today for Strategy Execution for Public Leadership

What You'll Learn

How do you execute a strategic initiative that has long-lasting impact? Do you know how to effectively communicate your strategic approach, gathering input and support from key stakeholders? How will you anticipate and respond to scrutiny from shareholders, news media, and the public?

Public sector leaders face unique challenges when it comes to making strategic,  business-oriented decisions. If not thoroughly planned and executed, these decisions have real consequences with high-stakes outcomes. What can we learn from world leaders and experts who have faced these monumental decisions? How can you create a high performing team to successfully execute strategic ideas?

In Strategy Execution for Public Leadership, former United States Pentagon Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Eric Rosenbach will lead you through real-life public sector challenges, showing you how purpose-driven strategy and execution lead to long-term adoption and success.


By studying decisions of key public leaders, like Former United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, you will better understand how to develop strategies that not only align with your organizational goals, but also gain insight into the challenges and scrutiny that come along with making public decisions. Too often, public strategies fail because leaders don’t think about execution, which is made up of leadership and management tools, as well as a team who anticipates all scenarios prior to putting your plan into place. Through global case studies and protagonist examples, you will explore topics that set you on a path to strengthen your public leadership, including resource and budget planning, talent recruitment and retention, strategic communications and crisis management, and risk planning and mitigation tactics.

By the end of this course, you will not only have the tools to create a sound public strategy, but also know how to test and optimize your strategy, increase competitive advantage, and sustain long-term impact and success.

Strategy is not one-size-fits-all. Implement a public leadership approach for long-term success.


The course will be delivered via HBS Online’s course platform and immerse learners in real-world examples from experts at industry-leading organizations. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Enhance your strategic thinking by understanding the core elements of public leadership, management, strategy, and execution
  • Develop the skills to institute strategic models that align with your goals and your stakeholders
  • Prepare to lead your organization to long-term success through a shared understanding of strategic direction
  • Create a culture of consistency, both internally and externally, that considers core objectives, resources, and environmental factors
  • Know how to approach strategy both effectively and efficiently, incorporating feedback cycles and creating public value
  • Identify weaknesses and risks, developing the skills and planning to respond in a crisis
  • Develop strategic communications to effectively roll out new initiatives and anticipate shareholder and media feedback

Your Instructor

Eric Rosenbach is Co-Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a Lecturer in Public Policy. Rosenbach teaches graduate courses in policy development, strategy execution, and national security.  As Pentagon Chief of Staff from 2015–2017, Rosenbach led and managed the execution of dozens of high-profile strategic initiatives for the largest public sector organization in the world.  As Assistant Secretary of Defense, Rosenbach was responsible for developing and executing the strategy for all aspects of the Department’s cyber activities and other key areas of defense policy. In the private sector, he led the cybersecurity practice of a global management consulting firm, advising the executives of Fortune 500 companies on strategic risk mitigation strategies.

Real World Case Studies

Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

One Blair Headshot

Oni Blair

Leadership is a valuable skill that can be cultivated and strengthened.  Hear from the Executive Director of The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to discover what it takes to become an effective leader at any level.

Ash Carter Headshot

Ash Carter

Communication errors are often cited as the primary reason that initiatives fail. Learn the best strategies for effective communications and media relations from a former United States Secretary of Defense.

Juliette Kayyem Headshot

Juliette Kayyem

Risk prevention and mitigation is everyone’s responsibility. Explore how to assess and mitigate risks by learning about international events, including the Ebola Endemic, BP Oil Spill, and more.

Who Will Benefit

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Public Sector Leaders

Local, state, and national government leaders will benefit by better understanding the core principles of public sector strategy formulation and execution.

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Government Administrators

Military, defense, local, state, and federal officials, learn the the business fundamentals of strategy, including competitive analysis, stakeholder identification, and feedback.

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Rising Managers

Focused on rising leaders who will benefit from understanding how public sector strategy and execution serves a unique purpose, and can serve as the eyes and ears on the ground to enhance adoption and strategy optimization.


In Strategy Execution for Public Leadership, former Pentagon Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Eric Rosenbach will lead you through real-life public sector challenges to illustrate how purposefully developed public strategies lead to long-term adoption and success.

Online Course requirements: There are no prerequisites needed to take this online course. In order to earn a Certificate of Completion from Harvard Online, participants must thoughtfully complete all 8 modules, including satisfactory completion of the associated quizzes, by stated deadlines.

Download Full Syllabus

  • Understand why strategy execution is important in the public sector
  • Overview of the course
  • Formulate an effective strategy to tackle any problem or opportunity and achieve your intended goals
  • Learn how to use environmental scan tools like SWOT and PESTEL
  • Plan and manage your initiative’s operations to increase performance and productivity
  • Learn to generate an activity list using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Assess and use financial and technological tools to responsibly manage resources and maintain public trust
  • Practice generating cost estimate, calculating burn rates, and comparing waterfall and agile methodologies
  • Strengthen your leadership skills by understanding the styles and traits of an effective leader
  • Identify leadership styles and reflect on your own
  • Communicate your ideas purposefully and persuasively to garner necessary support and commitment
  • Learn communications strategies that align with your audience and purpose and compare the uses and roles of different communication channels
  • Assess risks and craft ways to mitigate them so that they do not derail your efforts
  • Assess risks using an Impact-Probability Matrix
  • Learn to match mitigation strategies to risks to create a contingency plan
  • Evaluate your initiative to understand your level of impact and how to improve in the future
  • Identify key aspects of the Logical Framework planning tool and learn to compare the Logical Framework planning tool to a Performance Management Plan

Earn Your Certificate

Enroll today in Harvard Online's Strategy Execution for Public Leadership course.

Apply Now

Still Have Questions?

What are the learning requirements? How do I list my certificate on my resume? Learn the answers to these and more in our FAQs.


Strategy Execution for Public Leadership Sample Certificate

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