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:
August 2024
4 weeks
4–5 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
Course Calendar
November 2024
4 weeks
4–5 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
Course Calendar
Apply today for Strategy Execution for Public Leadership

What You'll Learn

How do you execute a strategic initiative that has a 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?

Leaders in government, non-profit, and education organizations 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 build 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 a purpose-driven strategy execution framework can lead to long-term adoption and success.


This government and nonprofit leadership training online course offers the opportunity to study decisions of key public leaders, like Former United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, so you can 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 skills, including leadership and team development, resource and budget planning, talent recruitment and retention, strategic communications and crisis management, and risk planning and mitigation tactics.

By the end of this leadership development 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 a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and is the Director of the Defense, Emerging Technology, and Strategy Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. 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.

Oni 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.

Available Discounts and Benefits for Groups and Individuals

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Experience Harvard Online by utilizing our wide variety of discount programs for individuals and groups. 


Past Participant Discounts

Learners who have enrolled in at least one qualifying Harvard Online program hosted on the HBS Online platform are eligible to receive a 30% discount on this course, regardless of completion or certificate status in the first purchased program. Past Participant Discounts are automatically applied to the Program Fee upon time of payment.  Learn more here.

Learners who have earned a verified certificate for a HarvardX course hosted on the edX platform are eligible to receive a 30% discount on this course using a discount code. Discounts are not available after you've submitted payment, so if you think you are eligible for a discount on a registration, please check your email for a code or contact us.

Nonprofit, Government, Military, and Education Discounts

For this course we offer a 30% discount for learners who work in the nonprofit, government, military, or education fields. 

Eligibility is determined by a prospective learner’s email address, ending in .org, .gov, .mil, or .edu. Interested learners can apply below for the discount and, if eligible, will receive a promo code to enter when completing payment information to enroll in a Harvard Online program. Click here to apply for these discounts.

Gather your team to experience Strategy Execution for Public Leadership and other Harvard Online courses to enjoy the benefits of learning together: 

  • Single invoicing for groups of 10 or more
  • Tiered discounts and pricing available with up to 50% off
  • Growth reports on your team's progress
  • Flexible course and partnership plans 

Learn more and enroll your team

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.

Learner Experience

“My goal for taking the course was to better understand public program decision making. The course was thoughtfully developed and gave me the opportunity to better understand the public leadership perspective. I would recommend this course to individuals wanting a career in public leadership.”

Rob Arnold
Executive Director
Health Commons Project

Syllabus and Upcoming Calendars

This public leadership training course will help executives, managers, and rising managers in the nonprofit, government, and education sectors develop and implement actionable plans and strategies that will have a lasting impact on their organizations and communities they serve. 

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

Download November 2023 Calendar

Download February 2024 Calendar

  • Prepare for this strategy execution training course for public sector leaders and rising leaders
  • Understand why strategy execution is important in the public sector
  • Overview of the course
  • Study a case on Women in the U.S. Military
  • 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
  • Study a case on the German Refugee Crisis
  • Plan and manage your initiative’s operations to increase performance and productivity
  • Learn to generate an activity list using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Study a case on
  • 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
  • Study a case on Equitable Transportation for Houston
  • Learn how to strengthen your leadership skills by understanding the styles and traits of an effective leader
  • Identify leadership styles and reflect on your own
  • Revisit the case study on Women in the U.S. Military
  • 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
  • Study the case on the Ebola Endemic in Liberia
  • 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?

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Sample Certificate, Strategy Execution for Public Leadership

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