Public Service Leadership Model

The standard for effective federal leadership



Public Service Leadership Model – Becoming Self-Aware

Becoming Self-aware

Becoming self-aware begins with an introspective understanding of your values, thought patterns and motivations, all of which are essential to personal development and better interactions with others. Self-awareness is an anchor, enabling you as a leader to stay true to yourself and perform at your highest level in service to the American public. The five subcompetencies to becoming self-aware include:

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Regularly reflect, test assumptions and seek feedback.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

– Margaret J. WheatleyWriter and organizational behavior consultant


Tips for Self-Assessment

This Partnership blog provides tangible and actionable steps and reminders for leaders as they explore feedback from others through self-assessments.

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Les Lyles’ Leadership Journey

General Les Lyles shares the story of his leadership journey in service to the country, including notable points of self-reflection on values and contribution.

Leading Innovation in Government Report

This Partnership report explores the attributes of innovative leaders, with “self-aware learner” at its center.

Download the report

  • What strengths do I bring to my work?
  • In what areas do I feel unsteady and want to improve?
  • How will I seek continuous feedback about my performance? Who are my trusted sources for feedback?
Additional resources

READ: How A Daily Self-Reflection Practice Improves Leadership Performance – Naz Beheshti, Contributing writer and consultant, Forbes

READ: A Time for Reflection: Understanding Yourself in Times of Change – Stacie M. Rivera, Public Affairs Specialist at Veterans Affairs, GovLoop

WATCH: The Science of Character – Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, author, public speaker

Act according to your belief system.

“Authentic Leaders are not afraid to show emotion and vulnerability as they share in the challenges with their team. Developing a solid foundation of trust with open and honest communication is critical to authentic leadership.”

– Farshad AslThe “No Excuses” Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity


Leading Negotiations with Authenticity

Nicole Nelson-Jean demonstrated authenticity as she led U.S. delegates to the Arctic Circle for negotiations with Russian officials to better secure Russia’s nuclear materials and weapons.

Learn more about Nicole

Doug Conant on Being Self-aware

Doug Conant reflects on his career as former CEO and president of Campbell Soup Company pinpointing a vital element for a successful leader – self-awareness.

How the Peace Corps Welcomed Back Employees

In this blog post, Peace Corps CHCO, Traci DiMartini identifies authenticity as a tip for managers to embrace as staff come back to work after a lapse in appropriations.  

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  • How do I want to be known to others? What qualities of myself are most important to demonstrate?
  • In what situations or with what people do I tend to:
    • Hide or downplay myself or my strengths, or
    • Fear admitting my flaws, or
    • Forget my personal boundaries, or
    • Feel as if I’m not good enough, or
    • Create pressure to “fit in”
  • Examining the above situations or people, what might be contributing to this tendency to shy away from authenticity?
Additional resources

READ: Seeking Authentic Leadership? – Ruth McGowan, Research Scientist and consultant 

WATCH: Authentic Leadership – Dana Born, retired brigadier general in the United States Air Force

WATCH: The Authenticity Paradox – Herminia Ibarra, Author and Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School

Emotional Intelligence
Recognize your emotions and those of others; use this information to manage behavior. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

– Maya Angelou, Civil rights activist, poet, author


Managing the Ebola Crisis

Read about Mia Beers’ success in helping manage the ebola crisis in West Africa while also considering the emotions and customs of both the affected communities and her USAID team.

Learn more about Mia

Are you an agitated leader? Here are four tips to help you stay “CALM”

This Partnership blog will help leaders in developing emotional discipline, particularly during stressful times.

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How Kindness Contributes to Leadership

Listen to General Les Lyles talk about how kindness contributes to leadership effectiveness.

  • How might I practice paying attention to my experience and being present?
  • When I’m feeling stressed, what techniques do I use to cope?
  • What is my level of awareness about how emotions play into my work? The work of others?
Additional resources

READ: 5 Skills to Help You Develop Emotional Intelligence – Mark Manson, Author and personal development consultant

WATCH: Empathy vs. Sympathy – Brené Brown, Research Professor and author

WATCH: Strategies to Become More Emotionally Intelligent – Daniel Goleman, Author and behavioral scientist

Follow moral and ethical principles.

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

– Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and philanthropist


Shaping the Government’s Legal Position

Learn about Edwin Kneedler’s unwavering integrity and candor as he has worked to tell his clients’ stories fairly and uphold the U.S. Constitution throughout his career at the Department of Justice.

Learn More about Edwin

Charlie Bolden on Leading in Government

In this interview, former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden talks about the unique nature of leading in government and keeping the public good as the focus.

Stephen Covey on Integrity

Listen to Stephen M.R. Covey describe how federal leaders demonstrate integrity.

  • What moral principles tend to guide my work?
  • Think back to a time when faced with an ethical dilemma. How did I handle it? What did I learn from it?
  • Am I inclined to “do the right thing, even when no one is looking?” What helps or hinders me in practicing integrity?
Additional resources

READ: Leading with Character: Integrity – Michael Lee Stallard, author of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work

READ: Why Integrity Remains One of the Top Leadership Attributes – Terri Williams, Economist contributing author and journalist

WATCH: Simplifying Humility and Integrity – Joe Sibini, Ted Talk speaker

Continuous Learning
Constantly seek to grow and learn.  

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

– John F. Kennedy, President of the United States


Keeping Talent Report

Read in the Partnership’s Keeping Talent Report (2011) about the various tools that agencies can use to support employees and keep retention rates high. 

Download the report

Continuing Personal Growth

In this blog post, Sammies award winner Omar Perez Aybar talks about why continued personal growth and excellence go hand in hand.

Read the post

Advancing Medical Science

Discover the genius of Ann Mckee, who has spent her career advancing medical science in the field of head trauma through extensive research and study of environmental impacts on the brain.

Learn more about Ann

  • How often am I taking time for formal learning? Informal or on-the-job learning?
  • What sources of feedback do I have on my performance and my professionalism?
  • How will I capture or codify what I’m learning?
Additional resources

READ: Future of Work Requires Leaders Who Value Learning in the Flow of Life – Amy A. Titus, Managing Director in Human Capital at Deloitte Consulting and ATD contributor

READ: Why Continuous Learning is a Sign of Great Leadership – Sean Jacobson, HR Business Consultant and contributor to Leader2Leader

WATCH: The Backwards Brain Bicycle – Smarter Every Day

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