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6 Characteristics of Effective Government Leaders to Look for in Applicants

Government bureaucracy often makes hiring a cumbersome, slow-moving process. As a result, top talent tends to slip through the cracks. When the government competes with industry recruiters who are able to make quick, competitive offers, it has to rely on its mission of public service as its main recruiting tool.

The challenge is particularly tough for hiring young workers. The federal workforce needs fresh blood, yet the share of the federal workforce under the age of 30 continues to drop, government figures show. With baby boomers retiring, millennials need to fill the void, yet there’s “a lot of competition for new talent among them,” according to Lisa Danzig, associate director for personnel and performance with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

With the talent pool small, recruiters and hiring managers need to be able to weed out applicants who have the potential to be effective from those who do not. Here are six common characteristics of capable federal managers that can be used to determine which applicants are equipped to be competent leaders, and which can be removed from the applicant mix, courtesy of [email protected], UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program.

They are mission driven.

In an analysis of 49,928 business units across 192 organizations representing 49 different industries in 34 countries, Gallup found that employees who move beyond the basics of employee engagement and know how they contribute to the organization more broadly are more likely to stay in their job and to be more productive. Effective government leaders that are mission driven acknowledge that maximizing employee engagement is a key driver of organizational performance. Mission drives loyalty, customer engagement, improves strategic alignment, brings clarity, and is measured by effective government leaders to help them align daily operations with the company’s purpose. Keeping mission front and center is of the utmost importance to effective government leaders because they know that no matter how positive an impact their organization has on the world, if they don’t communicate it to their employees, it doesn’t matter.

They are creative problem solvers.

Effective government leaders know how to stay cool under pressure rather than get frazzled, and are strategic and critical thinkers — all characteristics of a creative problem solver. In federal jobs, the chessboard changes daily. The economy changes or there’s a financial crisis and a leader must quickly adapt to the changing environment. Those who can tackle challenges head on and in the moment are an asset in this type of environment.. Effective government leaders realize that being a problem solver isn’t just an ability; it’s a whole mindset that drives people to bring out the best in themselves and shape the world around them in a positive way.

They invest in relationships.

The relationships you build influence your future, and effective government leaders realize that. They know that success is achieved by those who are surrounded by people who want them to succeed. An employee who feels well mentored by their manager is more likely to go the extra mile — inspired to work harder beyond their job responsibilities. Effective government leaders encourage employees to network as well to strengthen their circles of influence, which requires them to communicate their personal goals and objectives. This way, employees know who they can trust and who can help them elevate their position for success.

They know how to function strategically with limited resources.

Resources in the federal government can change quickly. Budget cuts can appear without warning, making it difficult to do more with less. Effective government leaders overcome this challenge by adapting. They do this by developing a robust approach to prioritization while also maintaining motivation and improving performance. Strategies include frequent communication, faster organizational responsiveness, creativity to reduce internal costs and to create external opportunities, and using experienced managers to support younger managers who have not had to work in a difficult economic environment before.

They demonstrate integrity.

Effective government leaders demonstrate integrity to show that their employees can trust them. They are deemed reliable, allowing them to get results while balancing relationships. Effective government leaders follow through with what they say they will do and are consistent in their expectations, outcomes, actions, and values. They know that implicit trust is the key to a powerful team.

They can communicate their vision.

One of the most powerful ways to get buy-in on key priorities is by effectively communicating your vision. Effective government leaders know how to get a point across, make sure daily tasks are completed to make progress toward a desired outcome. They acknowledge that they will need help in achieving their vision and know how to hire the right people to support them because they can communicate what a job entails to the people they are interested in recruiting.

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Anna Weber

America’s founding values and the leadership traits that embodied them gave rise to the greatest nation on earth. It is through the resurrection of these essential qualities in every American—and a rejection of the pervasive attitude of entitlement and culture of complaint—that the spirit of America will once again empower its citizens and inspire the world. Chris Salamone http://goo.gl/JKSDFj works to improve the lives of young people around the world through his many philanthropic endeavors. To this end, he functions as chairman of the Lead America Foundation and extends a considerable amount of financial support to fund the education of 300 children in Haiti. As the young leaders of tomorrow, you have the passion and energy and … a global vision.