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Secretary Carson's Take on Leadership

Last week, Secretary Dr. Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spoke about leadership at the Partnership for Public Service’s Recognition in Government Forum and Reception. The Partnership for Public Service strives to recognize and celebrate government employees and all the work that they do.

Before coming to HUD, Secretary Carson served as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the John Hopkins Children’s Center. Dr. Carson and his wife, Candy co-founded the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people for their academic and humanitarian achievements with scholarships.

Secretary Carson addressed the key aspects of good leadership and how it helps to drive a workplace. Here are some of the top takeaways.

Recognize the work of your employees. “The career people are the only reason we’ve been able to things done,” Carson said. He stressed the importance of supporting your employees by showing them you value their work. This starts with recognition. Go to intra-agency events such as career fairs and mingle with people. Promote an open environment where people are recognized for the work they do. Not only does this make people feel valued, but it can boost morale and motivation.

Make people feel like they are a part of the organization. In other words, treat your employees like people. Show that you care about the work they do for your organization. Employees want to feel like their agency values their work and considers them a member of the team. Dr. Carson described his own experience on the board of Costco for over 16 years. “They really look out for their employees with little turnover and shrinkage because people feel like they are part of the organization,” Carson said.

Keep an eye out for high performers. Good leadership can include knowing your individual employee's’ strengths and weaknesses. Pay attention to the people who are working hard and show them you appreciate them. “It’s all about who you have around you,” Carson said. You want to invest a significant amount of time to find the best people because you know they will work hard. This also helps build a good team that you know you can rely on. As a leader, you can act as a mentor, where individuals know they can come to you. “When we start grooming someone you start thinking years ahead what experiences they will need and you do what you need to do to get the experience they need,” Carson said.

Overall, good leadership comes from knowing how to make you and your team successful. This involves being able to find people who are willing to put in the work and are flexible with changes that may occur in their organization. Above all, leadership comes from sharing your passion for what you do.

“It’s a matter of making sure that people understand what it means to be a public servant and that it’s a real sacrifice,” Carson said.

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