US envoy leadership style criticised
Posted Saturday, August 11 2012 at 23:30
- Scott Gration accused by State Department of failing to engage Kenyan leaders over corruption
Outgoing US Ambassador Scott Gration exhibited “uninspired and uninvolved leadership” due to his reluctance to engage Kenyan leaders on corruption or other major issues, the State Department says in a highly critical assessment issued on Friday.
In his first year as US envoy, the retired Air Force major-general met no more than half of the prominent Kenyans he had been urged to see during his first 100 days in the post, says the report by the department’s Office of Inspector General.
“Several of those he met subsequently conveyed a message of complaint to the embassy about the ambassador’s patronising tone,” the detailed 62-page report adds. “The ambassador has lost the respect and confidence of the staff to lead the mission,” the evaluation finds.
It notes that of more than 80 chiefs of mission recently assessed, Ambassador Gration ranked last in regard to interpersonal relations. The Kenya envoy, who resigned his post in anticipation of the new report, also ranked next to last in managerial skill and attention to embassy staff morale.
“The ambassador’s leadership to date has been divisive and ineffective,” declares the report on a review carried out in April.
Mr Gration was apparently as disengaged from senior embassy staff members as he was from top Kenyan officials.
Many of the US personnel interviewed for the inspector general’s report complained of “scathing criticism from and humiliating treatment by the ambassador”.
“He is rarely available to consult personally on evolving issues with senior staff, some of whom also tried unsuccessfully over a period of many months to schedule a time to brief him on plans and activities,” the review adds.
The report identifies Ambassador Gration’s reluctance to accept US Government decisions as his “greatest weakness”.
It points specifically to his disagreement with Washington policy decisions and directives regarding the creation of a freestanding Somalia unit within the US embassy in Nairobi. The ambassador is also faulted for using commercial email for government business, including “sensitive but unclassified information”.
“Notwithstanding his talk about the importance of mission staff doing the right thing, the ambassador, by deed or word, has encouraged it to do the opposite,” the report states.
In an interview on Friday with the Washington Post, Ambassador Gration said he is “disappointed” in the findings which, he charged, include many factual errors.
He rejected the assertion that he had failed to meet with many prominent Kenyans, saying “I met with every one on that list”.
Mr Gration suggested that his efforts to shift embassy priorities may have inspired the criticisms directed at him by staff members.
“I did rock the boat,” he told the Post. “I made changes in priorities, and changes can be very hard.”