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Dealing with Fear and Uncertainty in Government

Welcome to the new GovLoop bi-weekly blog on issues relating to the intersection of leadership and executive coaching in government. Let me first introduce myself. I’m Lee Salmon, a certified executive coach, who worked in three federal government agencies for 22 years until last year when I retired (www.leesalmon.com ). During my last ten years I was the manager for Leadership Development and Executive Coaching in the Federal Consulting Group, a fee-for-service consultancy within the National Business Center in the Department of Interior.

While working with and coaching leaders throughout government, I became aware of issues and challenges that keep most executives up at night, and which make leading in government such a challenge. This blog will explore many of these topics and do so by sharing my perspective and provide a link to a resource for further reading that explores the subject in greater depth than is possible in a blog.

I want to introduce readers to a wonderful resource, The Library of Professional Coaching, which is available to anyone (www.libraryofprofessionalcoaching.com ). The LPC is an Internet-based center that provides access to a carefully selected set of resources associated with the field and discipline of professional coaching. The library includes a growing collection of articles, research briefs, and white papers which will serve as the ultimate free Internet-based source of information about professional coaching. It’s an easily searchable database of trusted, high-caliber, peer-reviewed content.

So let’s get started with the topic of fear and uncertainty which is increasingly present in the conversations I have with my coaching clients and other executive coaches. With the inability of Congress to deal with the challenges of debt-reduction and attempts to balance the budget, government agencies are once again faced with uncertainty. Agencies still face continuing resolutions on budget approvals, which put future funding into doubt, and the churn created by a number of proposals to limit or reduce the size of government can be unsettling. All this creates fear and uncertainty around change.

Karlin Sloan in her book, Unfear: Facing Change in an Era of Uncertainty, poses a number of questions for leaders such as: How do our organizations serve a larger purpose? What do we truly value?, How do leaders adapt to rapid change that is not predictable or particularly controllable?, What things can I control and which are beyond my ability to influence? Karlin posits that “Unfear” is the confidence in our ability to create a positive outcome no matter what the circumstance. She presents four practices that engage Unfear: 1) Accepting what is, and focusing on the future, 2) Building relationships and community, 3) Viewing challenges as opportunities, and 4) Practicing physical and mental discipline. If you’d like to learn more about the concept of Unfear and strategies for its application, please use the link below to access a sample chapter of Karlin’s book. In your agency, what is the greatest fear you see? If you have thoughts on what you read or other topics to address in the future, please comment.

Link: http://libraryofprofessionalcoaching.com/case-studies/leadership-case-studies/sample-chapter-of-unfear-facing-change-in-an-era-of-uncertainty/

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