Scotland's public sector spends pound;5 million a year to identify and train leaders. This includes pound;4,413 per person for each headteacher on the Columba 1400 training programme, pound;6,300 for each individual taking the Scottish Qualification for Headship and pound;13,000 per college principal on a further education leadership programme.
But, according to an Audit Scotland investigation, three-quarters of public bodies are unable to say what impact spending on leadership development has had on their organisation's performance.
The finding comes as the Scottish Executive Education Department is, alongside the Hunter Foundation, investing heavily in leadership initiatives for headteachers and is setting up a unit to run its leadership programme.
The report, published yesterday (Thursday), calls on public bodies to do more to track their investment in leadership development and ensure it delivers results.
Covering a range of public services, including health, education, social services and further and higher education, How government works: Leadership development states that bodies rarely share examples of good practice or experience and expertise with the rest of the sector.
The Audit Scotland report notes significant differences in the cost of each of these initiatives, all funded directly or indirectly by the Scottish Executive. "The rationale for these differences in investment is not clear," it states, "and there are also questions about the coherence of planning for individual leadership groups," it states.
"For example, under Columba 1400, the investment in enterprise in education appears to have attracted almost three-quarters as much funding per place as the core qualification for school leadership."
Robert Black, Auditor General for Scotland, urged the Executive to work closely with the Scottish Leadership Foundation or other employers, and to consider sponsoring a co-ordinating body to bring together training and leadership programmes in the different parts of the public sector.
A spokeswoman for the Executive said: "We recognise the difference good leadership can make in our schools. We expect councils to put in place appropriate measures to develop leadership among senior school staff.
"That is why we have been consulting on the Standard for Headship, which sets out clear expectations for our school leaders, and it is why we will shortly be consulting on new arrangements in relationship to the appointment of headteachers and their deputes."
A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said that councils were in the process of developing a workforce strategy for local government, of which leadership would be an integral strand.