Public Service Leadership Model

Public Service Leadership Model

The standard for effective federal leadership

Public servants aren’t driven by the bottom line—they’re driven by impact. Instead of asking how they can generate the biggest profits, they ask themselves, “How can we do the most good?” 

To help government leaders take advantage of the opportunity they have been given to improve our country, we developed the Public Service Leadership Model. This model is the new standard for effective federal leadership. It identifies the core values leaders must prioritize, and the critical competencies they must master to achieve their agencies’ missions and desired impact. By using the model, leaders can evaluate their performance, assess their leadership progress and chart a course for self-improvement.

Our Article in Harvard Business Review Call to Action from our Government Leadership Advisory Council

The Essential Competencies for Government Leaders

The model identifies four key leadership competencies that government leaders need to master to best serve our country in the 21st century.

They complement and add to the Office of Personnel Management’s Executive Core Qualifications, providing fresh direction to address today’s challenges. Within each of the four competencies, we identify five subcompetencies, adding a level of detail to the blueprint of leadership effectiveness.

Leaders can use the model as a guide to steer their growth and make decisions at different stages of their careers. Agencies can use the model as a standard for building and measuring overall leadership effectiveness.

Becoming Self-Aware

Becoming self-aware begins with an understanding of your values, thought patterns and motivations. Being reflective in this way is essential to better interactions.

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Engaging Others

When engaging others, leaders foster a culture that encourages team members to offer feedback, recognize good work and pursue professional development.

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Leading Change

Leading change in a federal environment means initiating, sponsoring and implementing innovative solutions. Leaders also help others be successful. 

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Achieving Results

Achieving results means managing skillfully, thinking strategically and making good decisions that deliver measurable outcomes. 

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How does this apply to you as a leader?

Take our Public Service Leadership Model Benchmark Quiz to find out how you score in each leadership competency. This will help you know what areas you need to focus on in your professional development.

Take the Quiz

Public Service Leadership Model Benchmark Quiz

Please rank yourself on how well you do the following. 1 is the lowest, 5 is the highest.
1.Seek and act on feedback for self-improvement
2."Do the right thing even when no one is looking."
3.Use setbacks and mistakes as opportunities for growth.
4.Build trust with colleagues and partners.
5.Create an environment where people of diverse backgrounds can succeed.
6.Seek to understand and be inclusive of other views when resolving conflict.
7.Articulate a clear vision and effectively convey it to others.
8.Identify and apply key improvements in processes, products and services to achieve outcomes.
9.Take calculated risks to get results.
10.Aware of my role in the larger system and savvy about operating within that system to get things done.
11.Listen to customers' experiences with processes, products and services and make continual improvements accordingly.
12.Build mutual accountability with colleagues and partners.

The Core Values of Government Leadership

When federal employees enter public service, they swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” These timeless and foundational ambitions serve as the true north for federal leaders who serve the American people.

To help federal leaders maintain our “more perfect union,” we identified two core values that are uniquely relevant to government.

Stewardship of Public Trust

Given the vast and unmatched influence, power and resources of our government, affecting the United States and the world, trust in federal leaders and their integrity is paramount. Federal leaders represent the American people and must be held to the highest standard. They are stewards of the Constitution, taxpayer dollars and the workforces they lead.

Read the stewardship case study

Commitment to Public Good

For federal leaders to achieve their agencies’ expansive missions that promote the general welfare of the American people, they need a deep-rooted service orientation and commitment to the public good.

Read the call to restore the stewardship of public trust Read our article in the MIT Sloan Management Review

Meroe Park talks about commitment to public good and public trust

Types of Government Leaders by Role

Each leadership competency is critical for all government leaders—but leaders will apply them differently depending on their role and rank within their agencies. These competencies apply to supervisors and technical experts alike.

Click on a role below to learn about its competencies.

Emerging Leader
Leader of Teams or Projects
Leader of Leaders
Leader of Organizations

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