A Model for Elevating Public Service Leadership in Congress
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A Model for Elevating Public Service Leadership in Congress

October 25, 2021 | Updated on April 4, 2022

Congress needs new standards when it comes to effective leadership. Whether it concerns infrastructure talks, budgetary matters, or other significant issues the legislative branch must address, great leadership that puts the public first is key to our shared success.

In a recent committee hearing, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress took up the topic of “How Practicing Civility, Collaboration, and Leadership can Empower Members.” The Partnership for Public Service’s Alliance for Congress was proud to participate in the hearing, joined by Government Leadership Advisory Council member Liz Wiseman, and share how the Public Service Leadership Model can be used to strengthen leadership capabilities in Congress.

The Partnership developed the Public Service Leadership Model to help those serving in positions of responsibility in government take advantage of the opportunity they have to improve our country. This model identifies the core values and critical competencies that will help government leaders stay centered on what matters most: doing the nation’s business and putting the interests of the public above politics.

By using the model, leaders can evaluate their performance, assess their leadership progress and chart a course for self-improvement. It provides a common framework, vocabulary and shared understanding of what the people should expect from their leaders. What makes this model especially relevant is that it emphasizes the values that are unique to public service–stewardship of public trust and commitment to public good.

The Partnership designed the model in concert with former Cabinet secretaries, Fortune 500 CEOs and leadership experts. It is also based on our experience providing over 30,000 federal employees with the leadership skills to drive change and achieve results at their agencies.

The model is built around four key leadership competencies: becoming self-aware, achieving results, engaging others and leading change. Using the model, the Partnership has created successful training programs for federal leaders. The Partnership’s Public Service Leadership 360 assessment has reached more than 1,200 federal leaders, with 93% of those who used the tool saying that it was “very” or “extremely” effective in assessing and strengthening their leadership abilities. Congress would benefit from a similar initiative.

As Congress works to address our most pressing domestic and international challenges, the model can play an important role in serving as a unifying force for those who serve on Capitol Hill. The values core to leading in government apply to leaders in all branches and at all levels.

One of the Select Committee’s previous recommendations is to establish a Congressional Leadership Academy—a tremendous step toward building a culture that promotes civility and collaboration in public service. We hope this recommendation will be implemented.

The Public Service Leadership Model has at its core a simple question: ‘How can we do the most good?’ This question is a good place for Congress to start.

Jeff McNichols was the director of the Partnership for Public Service’s Alliance for Congress.

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