What is the number one skill that our leaders in government need in order to overcome the challenges they face?

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This topic contains 16 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Dick Griffin 10 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #98282

    Last week I posed the question “Who is your favorite leader and why?” A number of you gave great responses, going into detail about the specific skills of your favorite leader and how that drove the impact they made.

    Being a strong leader requires a diverse set of skills – particularly if you are a leader in government. But if there is ONE skill that our leaders in government need to overcome the profound challenges they face and deliver high quality results – what is it?

    For me, it is innovation.

    Leaders who are innovative will find ways to overcome the barriers that often exist in government and effectively deliver high quality services to the American people.

    So what is your one skill?

  • #98314

    Dick Griffin

    Executive branch leadership should learn how to encourage acquisition professionals (in contracting and programs) to view their roles in the acquisition process as policy trend setters. If this became the practice, rather than restricting acquisition practice to being reactionary, it would lead to establishing acquisition practice as policy initiatives that could accelerate embracement of inovation in technology, evolution in industry, and drive the creation of new jobs across the scope of our economy. The benefits of this policy shift to federal government would manifest in cost savings nearly immediately, and create a stark contrast to the current practice: reactively trying to maintain relationships with legacy contractors who nurture fading technology, and agencies vested in acquiistion practices that continue to provide services through archaic and industry lagging capabilities, and continually exploding costs and budgets.

  • #98312

    Gerry La Londe-Berg


  • #98310

    Gerry La Londe-Berg

    I’ve seen more “Level 5 leaders” (ala Jim Collins in Good to Great) in government than anywhere else. Humility plus drive = level 5.

  • #98308

    Steve Ressler

    I think it’s a word that I can’t come up with both is “confidence + humility”

    You want a leader to lead and be confident in his/her position so you follow them.

    You also want a leader who is humble enough to listen to other viewpoints and is not cocky.

  • #98306

    Gerald David


    The courage to delegate authority and accept responsibility. The courage to take the risk of moving outside the comfort zone — to grow. The courage to move counter to “conventional wisdom” when conviction, not convention dictates and support it under the same when convictions demand. The courage to encourage others, subordinate, peers, superiors. Many other aspects or examples. In my experience without courage and ethics (loosely defined as doing the right thing even when no one is looking) you have no leader.

  • #98304


    Innovation is indeed important; however, it is equally important to think wayyyy outside of the box. Too often while listening to the news and other talks on the tv (including CSPAN at times), I was talking back to the television and asking, “Why does it have to be black or white? Why can’t you please think outside of the box for a change of pace?”

    Thank goodness a plan for Healthcare Reform has passed, although it isn’t clear exactly all the ramifications that it will have upon us in the future, because it clearly needed some change to come about so that it wasn’t healthcare for only the survival of the fittest basically. Hopefully, that change came about because some folks FINALLY thought outside of the box and came up with some creative solutions.

    This will need to be an example to others in the government that change is possible with thinking outside of the box. Even so, other skills of communication, listening, etc. will need to be utilized in order to think outside of the box. 😉 lol..

  • #98302

    A few months ago, I highlighted “6 Competencies of a Gov 2.0 Leader,” but if I had to pick just one it would be “Intuitive” – the world is moving fast and leaders often don’t have full or complete information when they are making decisions. So they have to ‘go with their gut’ a la Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts in his book Blink. Also, they have to be able to read people quickly and know who they can trust – whether making a professional contact online or in person.

  • #98300

    Cynthia Burke

    Knowing how to get along with people – the soft skill, but very important.

  • #98298

    Bill Brantley

    Vision and the ability to communicate that vision.

  • #98296

    Walter Neary

    I’m with Bill, I’d say in this day and age ‘communication.’ Very appropriate for govloop.

    That might seem an odd choice, because you think ‘leadership’ and you think some man or woman perched on a cliff waving wisdom, foresight and courage in front of an endangered crowd. You think of some dramatic quality consistent with innovation, vision, courage, etc…

    But the biggest foe of a government leader is confusion and lack of education among those she or he serves. The average citizen has no clue what he or she is getting for whatever amount of total taxes they are paying … and outside of members of the traditional and new media who bring their own issues to the table, the people most willing to communicate with those citizens are peddling party agendas, demagoguery, and at worst, hate.
    The tools and tactics we are using to convey information don’t seem to be sufficient for an informed constituency. Leaders are tempted to pander to party agendas, demagoguery and even hate to preserve their position and not challenge what voters think they know. That ain’t healthy. Good democracy is predicated on an informed community that can help supplement any other leadership quality the leader may or may not have. But the people of the democracy will only make decisions and requests as healthy as their understanding of the real problems, issues, needs and opportunities.

  • #98294

    Christina Evans

    The ability to take the long view. I see too many leaders who get caught up in the “urgent” — the immediate budget pressures, deadlines, and issues — and make decisions that can be extremely bad for the organization in the long term. But they will have moved on to something else by then, so someone else will have to deal with the consequences.

  • #98292

    Bill Bott

    I’d say they have to be smart. Smart enough to make wise decisions, smart enough to surround themselves with good people, smart enough to know what hills to die on, smart enough to know when to keep their head down, smart enough to know what advice to take, and smart enough to know what advice to ignore… Book Smart, Emotionally Smart… just plain smart

  • #98290

    Candace Riddle

    Positive Attitude – Think It, Do It, Insipre It, Lead It!!!

    If you have the ability to think poitive, you can then inspire others to do the same. Being a leader,especially in government, requires this key attribute and ability. It sounds simple, but think about how much more would get done if we all had a better attitude . . . a positive attitude should dictate our reaction to our circumstances. . .not the other way around.

  • #98288

    Eric Melton

    I agree with Gerald’s post from yesterday. Leading takes courage.
    Specifically, Courage to:
    – Take ownership
    – Take risks
    – Protect your people
    – Challenge norms
    – Challenge self
    – Challenge your people
    – Stubbornly pursue positive change
    – Do the right thing
    – Care

    Everything else follows suit.

  • #98286

    Casey Wilson

    I’d offer that courage is vital to being able to overcome barriers in government and deliver high quality services to the public. Government was designed to be a slow, lethargic institution that was not easily swayed due to the ideas of a few. With the inertia that exists, leaders must have the courage to step up with new ideas, new ways of thinking, new ways of serving the public, and thoughtful ways of engaging others. Inherent in leading others is risk of social scrutiny and failure, two very powerful detractors from truly setting a vision and working with others to achieve it.

    Secondarily, I’d offer the ability to build trust is vital. Without the trust of others, leaders’ ability to move the needle will be diminished, constantly plagued by individuals not willing to fully engage and give it their best. People don’t engage fully with those leaders they don’t trust.

  • #98284

    Stephen Settles

    According to the Census Bureau’s most recent report from 4th Qtr. 2009, total retail sales equaled $942.4billion with total e-commerce sales of $35.9 billion, representing 3.8 percent of total sales (U.S. Census, 2010). While online travel agencies, financial brokers and dealers, and ticket agencies are not included in this survey (2010), the trend since 2001 indicates a steady increase in e-commerce transactions.

    Laudon and Laudon (2007) suggested that ‘the world’ accurately describes the marketing share of e-commerce activities, opening an altogether new kind of storefront represented by a new business model consisting of:

    •Virtual storefronts•Information brokers•Transaction brokers•Online marketplaces•Content providers•Online service providers•Virtual communities, and•Portals (2007)

    A few of the challenges facing e-commerce involve Web supportive system architectures that facilitate virtual store fronts, payment options and processing, secure shopping environments, and JIT shipping and delivery modes. In addition, due to the global nature of customers around the world, business must address not only U.S. domestic local, state, and federal laws and regulations, but may be bound by international laws or country specific legal codes such as tax liabilities. Other considerations may relate to honesty and integrity issues that may vary accordingly (2007), and stakeholder and investor priorities that must be balanced with brick-and-mortar services.

    Consequently, preparing future managers for virtual marketplaces should include training and familiarity of information system technology, networking concepts, virtual marketing opportunities, procurement services, shipping and distribution channels, international law and ethics, consumer protection, and online security (2009).

    Baltzan, P., & Phillips, A. (2009). Essentials of business driven information systems. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
    Haag, S., & Cummings, M. (2008). Management information systems for the information age. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
    U.S. Census Bureau. (2010, 16 February). Monthly & Annual Retail Trade. Retrieved 06 May, 2010, from http://www.census.gov/retail/.

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