Young, bright, capable, eager—these words describe many people, but especially individuals with about ten years of government service, aged in the low to mid 30s and likely in a GS 11-13 role. Management and leadership development theorists would identify this group as Millennials.
While this group of future leaders is especially well prepared academically, this does not necessarily ensure readiness to lead others in the mission of public service. Skills such as motivating others, addressing conflict, developing teams, building trust, providing extraordinary service, anticipating policy changes, and assigning tasks are typically not included in undergraduate or graduate degree programs.
Are your leaders ready?
Agencies considering the development of future leaders need to begin with an assessment of competencies that will be required to lead the government over the next five years. This process is not costly; however, the cost of not doing this type of assessment can be detrimental to preparing the next generation of leaders.
Once identified, core skills must be taught, reviewed, reinforced, and mastered. For example:
- Delegation – Multiplying oneself by successfully assigning projects to others in a way that creates commitment, ownership, accountability, and engagement.
- Motivation – Learning various methods for motivating others to maintain energy for and commitment to the mission.
- Conflict – Knowing how to spot and address conflict to ensure continued focus on necessary outcomes.
- Measurement – Developing performance metrics to measure output and productivity.
- Management – Providing encouragement for assignment completion and taking corrective action when the assignment is not on the proper path.
It’s necessary to be mindful that leadership is by definition a dynamic topic. In this context, leadership is situational and future leaders must learn to evaluate the readiness of their teams to engage in tasks and be ready for change. Specifically, a leadership technique that works for one situation cannot necessarily be applied to the next, even if the circumstances appear to be similar. The situational nature of leadership requires a commitment to continuous learning and practice.
Making the Transition
The development of leadership capacity is more important than ever given the dynamic, fast-paced, and unpredictable world we live in.
While ambition, desire, and commitment are necessary ingredients for evolving leadership responsibilities; a range of topics needs to be addressed, learned, and applied. If we are mindful of this, our future will be bright and led by a group of well developed and ready individuals.