Is Leadership Success A Shot in the Dark?

Want to make your organization successful? Simple, employ strong and consistent leadership.

But how do you actually do that? Tom Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service.

Tom told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that government leadership success still lags behind the public sector.

Can You Quantify Leadership?

“There are any number of different leadership models you can use. But for the federal government they use the Executive Core Qualifications to actually measure leadership success. The Qualifications serve as a cornerstone for leadership. But it’s still hard to measure. It’s kind of like that phrase on obscenity, ‘you know it when you see it,”” said Fox.

Seek input and explain decisions

Improving communications doesn’t simply mean that you need to talk more. It means you need to provide employees with an outlet for sharing their views and ideas about decisions affecting them and their work environment. Senior leaders might do this in a town hall meeting or through an online collaboration tool. Managers and supervisors might solicit thoughts through smaller team meetings where employees can engage in a real dialogue. Most importantly, once you make a decision, explain the processes and reasons behind that decision,” said Fox.

Mission First

“Most federal leaders have an advantage over private-sector leaders when trying to motivate employees — mission. Most people who are drawn to public service are seeking to make a difference or to do something meaningful. Federal leaders at all levels need to align their work and that of their employees with their agencies’ mission and goals. They should also make sure that every employee clearly sees and understands the connection between what they do and the ability of the organization to accomplish its mission. Virtually every process, including hiring, training, performance reviews and communication, should reinforce the agencies’ ultimate outcome: serving the American people,” said Fox


Senior leaders should spend some time reviewing issues of consequence — items that represent a budget risk or might embarrass the agency — and trust employees on routine matters. You might also review and jettison unnecessary processes or reports. You know, the ones everybody performs but no one ever uses. The FDIC challenged each manager and supervisor to eliminate three to five low-value activities that could reduce workload and improve efficiency.

Tom was also on hand for last week’s Service to America Medals. You can find our entire recap of the event here.

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