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Tips for Becoming a Senior Leader in Government

Learn something new everyday – that’s a phrase you’ve heard since you were little. You should always be looking for new experiences, skills to gain and ways to grow in leadership positions. As much as you want to do all these things, it’s easier said than done. So, where do you begin?

In GovLoop’s recent online training, Secrets of the C-Suite: Tips for Becoming a Senior Leader in Government, we heard from Julie Saad, Communications Strategist at U.S. Immigration Services within Department of Homeland Security; William Spencer, Clerk for the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and Kevin Richman, Director of ITS Portfolio Outreach for the General Services Administration and Chief Relationship Officer of Young Government Leaders.

During this online training, our speakers gave tips to advance your career from their personal experience. Among the many tips discussed, there were three common themes:

1. Find a mentor. “Develop strong relationships with your peers, colleagues, managers and senior executives,” said Saad.

How do you find the right mentor for you? “See if your agency has a mentor program or look elsewhere such as GovLoop for mentor programs,” said Spencer.

Chemistry is important. Looking for people that you respect and who represent themselves professionally is key. Seeking these people and finding the right chemistry between mentor and protégé is crucial. Once the chemistry is right, ask them to be a mentor.

2. Build your experience. “Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities,” said Saad. Looking for new ways to diversify your experience and skill set is essential. You might be offered new projects or jobs as a result of increasing your experiences.

“It’s about putting yourself out there, challenging yourself to new experiences and opportunities,” said Richman. With these experiences and skills, you will be a better employee and a better candidate for senior leadership positions.

3. Take chances. “Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself,” said Richman. Opportunities are always available and offered by colleagues. Before you say no to a potential new role or activity, really think about why you’re hesitating. You shouldn’t be afraid to turn away opportunities because you never know where they might lead. This does not mean to spread yourself too thin and neglect your own work, but find the point where you feel balanced.

“No matter what stage of your career, you should never stop growing, learning and developing,” concluded Saad.

Not sure where to start? A perfect place to train and gain leadership opportunities is NextGen. NextGen is a movement about inspiring government innovation, training and leadership growth opportunities to people in government. Overall, finding a mentor, diversifying your experience, enhancing skill sets and taking chances are tips that will help you flourish your career and climb the leadership ladder.

Here are a few resources that you may find helpful:
Next Generation of Government Training Summit
– Book: Crucial Conversations by Joseph Greeny
– Book: The Speed of Trust by Sptephen M.R. Covey
– Book: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White
5 Ways Joining an Association Can Enhance Your Career
NextGen Approval Toolkit
GovLoop Academy – 8 Networking Tips
Your Definitive Guide to the IDP
10 Traits of a Great Government Leader
GovLoop Career Resources

 

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