3 Core Traits Needed for Government Leaders

This is the fifth post in our GovLoop May Blog series, exploring how to break down silos in government. Our first post focused on the “trusted leader” and the traits required for leadership across government. Our second post explored collaboration strategies on your team. Last week, we looked out to the future, and how to recruit the next generation of public servants and the need to use multiple channels for customer service. This week we look at what kind of skills future leaders need to have to excel in government. With the Baby Boomers about to retire, it’s time to think about the skills and traits needed for the next generation of leaders.

Three core competencies that I have identified below are skilled collaborator, risk taker, and managing failure. I would love to hear the qualities that you believe are important for the next generation of employees.

Skilled Collaborators

In order to be able to work across government, employees need to demonstrate an ability to effectively collaborate. The next generation of employees are already use high levels of collaboration with technology that has emerged in the past few years, this will likely carry over into their careers.

Risk Taking

Taking risks and trying new ideas will be important for the next generation of government. Although the current financial state is perilous, there is a lot of room for innovation. Future leaders will be successful if they are not afraid to try something new, break the mold and test out new ideas.

Accepts Failure

One of my favorite Bob Dylan quotes is “there is no success like failure, but failure’s no success at all,” that is a perfect way to sum up this trait. A future leader needs to be motivated to try new things, accept when they don’t work, pull themselves up and try again.

Government is growing in complexity, as we become more and more connected, there are more interests that need to be met. In order for government to become versatile to meet the often changing interests of citizens, there are many traits that a leader will have to possess.

What are some traits that you believe are needed?

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Samuel Lovett

A good leader needs to be forward looking, anticipating future dilemmas and preparing to react when necessary. With an eye to the horizon, a well prepared leader will have more control over shaping what the future will hold.

Henry Brown

The better the leader the better their communication skills. Required for communications both ways on the chain!

Kanika Tolver

I love the accepts failure trait. Some leaders are not at good accepting the risks and issues within a project. Some leaders are too results driven.

Pat Fiorenza

Thanks for all the comments!

@Kanika – I think someone who can accept failure is so important for a leader, probably a pretty good indication to other traits they might posses (humility & empathy come to mind to me). For me, the desire to want to continually improve means you need to accept failure and turn it into something constructive.

@Henry – couldn’t agree more. There is something to the ability to clearly communicate and articulate needs as a leader. It’s also learning how you can get the best out of people, and maybe having a different way to communicate with people within the agency.

@ Sam – I love it! Forward looking and anticipation is key – like you said, if you know what is coming up and can adapt and be ready, you’re truly developing as a leader, and building a great culture within the agency.