Must-Read Career Advice from Senior Officials


“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
John C. Crosby, American Politician from Massachusetts

No matter where you are in your career, we all need someone to speak truth into our lives, support us when we struggle and cheer us on to success. In other words, we all need a mentor.

Although we traditionally think of mentoring as a one-on-one conversation, I recently attended an amazing and innovative event put on by my agency – a Virtual Flash Mentoring Panel. This one-hour, live video stream featured a panel of four senior-level agency officials, who answered questions posed by a moderator. The questions, which had been submitted in advance by those attending the event, ranged from career and leadership topics to work-life balance and how to stand out as a virtual employee.

Below are my favorite pieces of advice that came out of the event. I hope you find a nugget or two of inspiration and instruction that you can use in your current career.

What habit do you try to practice in your own work/life?
  • Every day is a new opportunity.
  • The better the attitude you can have, the easier things will be for you to accomplish.
  • Find a way to incorporate work-life balance into your life. (Like riding your bike to and from work to ensure you get exercise fit into your day.)
  • Become more self-aware.
What leadership qualities do you want people to see in you?
  • Fairness, openness and having a sense of humor!
What’s the best mentoring advice you ever received?
  • It’s how you treat people and respect others that makes the impact.
  • Other people are watching me and notice my skills.
  • Look for “reach” positions that will stretch you – and take them!
How do you motivate your employees?
  • Make people more comfortable. Talk about things that are important to you, not just professionally, but personally. The environment is key.
What characteristics are you looking for in your leadership team?
  • Integrity in what you are doing and work ethic. I want someone who is trustworthy.
What can virtual or off-site employees do to ensure they are standing out (although they are not physically in the office)?
  • Be engaged.
  • Contribute to the team as a whole.
  • Be proactive.
  • Make your presence known the best way that you can.
Additional advice worth noting!
  • Prioritize, take vacation days and find other ways (besides work) to enrich your life.
  • Always be open to the adventures that come your way.
  • When you are no longer feeling challenged, consider what you can do to take on new opportunities, learn new skills and be stretched.
  • Surround yourself with people you trust.
  • Learn soft skills – like how to build consensus and how to communication. These are the most transferable skills. I can teach someone to program something, but I can’t teach them how to get along with their coworker.
  • Get management experience as soon as you can.
  • Develop your Emotional IQ.
  • Be persistent. Keep trying. Feel comfortable failing fast.
  • Have a mentor (or two…), and make sure to also have mentees. You are responsible to share the knowledge that you have received with the next generation.

Lacey Scully is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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