Public Service Leadership Model

The standard for effective federal leadership



Public Service Leadership Model – Engaging Others

Engaging Others

To engage others, strive to foster an inclusive culture that encourages team members to offer constructive feedback, recognize good work and pursue professional development. This environment is the foundation for collaboration within and across federal agencies. Individuals, teams and agencies working together will have a greater impact on government effectiveness. The five subcompetencies to engaging others include:

Looking to further develop your public service leadership capabilities? Check out the Partnership’s wide variety of training programs.

Relationship Building
Communicate to build trust and cohesion.

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

– Colin Powell, Former General and Secretary of State


Keeping Talent Report

Read about the value that employees place on a cooperative work environment and definitive direction from leadership in the Partnership’s Keeping Talent Report (2011).

Download the report

How Can I Help?

In this clip, Doug Conant, former CEO and president of Campbell Soup Company talks about the value of a simple question: How can I help?

Bringing Young Leaders Together

Discover how Andrew Rabens brought young leaders from across the Middle East together to both empower them and familiarize them with American democratic institutions and society.

Learn more about Andrew

  • What is my preferred way of communicating with others? Why is that the case?
  • Do I implicitly trust people or does it need to be earned? How does that affect my work?
  • What can I do to build trust and rapport with my team? Think of both formal and informal opportunities to connect.
Additional resources

READ: Stephen M. R. Covey’s Guide to Building Trust – Tom Fox, Former VP, Leadership Development at the Partnership for Public Service and contributor to Washington Post

WATCH: Are you a Giver or Taker – Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and author

WATCH: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee, NPR Host and writer

Empowering Others
Provide autonomy and professional development for team members.

“Leadership is about empowering other to achieve things they did not think possible.”

– Simon Sinek, Author and motivational speaker


Liz Wiseman on Empowering Others

Listen to Liz Wiseman speak on what it means to Empower Others.

Providing vital training and resources

Learn how Ryan Shelby, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, worked with communities in Haiti to build disaster-resistant structures with materials from local sources and trained more than 2,000 community members on incorporating new building materials.

Learn more about Ryan

Best Places to Work in the Federal Government®

Check out rankings, analysis and resources for employee engagement across the federal government.

Learn more

  • What learning and development opportunities are available for my team? How might I encourage those?
  • How might I delegate more (or more effectively) to my team? How will I give them autonomy while still monitoring progress?
  • How will developing my team members benefit them, the organization, and the mission?
Additional resources

READ: Employee Engagement: What Successful Government Leaders Do – Andrew Rahaman, Contributing writer for GovLoop and American University professor  

READ: Bill Gates Says This 1 Simple Habit Separates Successful Leaders From Everyone Else – Marcel Schwantes, Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core

WATCH: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us – Dan Pink, Author and business columnist

Conflict Management
Resolve counterproductive behavior; create space for differences of opinion.

“Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding.” 

– Dale Carnegie


Addressing Conflict

Read how Arleas Upton Kea addressed conflict at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – juggling both the national financial crisis and an unsatisfied workforce within the agency.

Learn more about Arleas

Does it really pay to be civil?

In this blogpost author and TED talk speaker Chris Porath writes about the importance of civility—a critical feature to managing conflict effectively.

Read the post

Navigating a Male-Dominated Workforce

As the first woman to hold a cabinet position, Frances Perkins navigated conflict within her male-dominated team and on a national level battling industry leaders while working towards improving labor conditions for all working Americans.

Read the post

  • How do I experience conflict? What signs do I notice when I’m in conflict?
  • How do I tend to respond when conflict arises for me and/or others? Does this tend to help or hinder the situation?
  • How can I promote dialogue, rather than debate, among my colleagues?
Additional resources

READ: 6 Tips for Leading Through Conflict – CCL, Center for Creative Leadership

READ: The 5 Steps to Conflict Resolution – AMA Staff, American Management Association

WATCH: The Walk from No to Yes – William Ury, Author “Getting to Yes”

Engage stakeholders on shared goals to build trust.

“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind too) those who have learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

– Charles Darwin, Geologist and biologist


A Roadmap to the Future Report

Read about the Partnership’s take on how a more collaborative federal government is beneficial in A Roadmap to the Future (2020).

Download the report

Working Together to Bring Justice

Discover how Karen Dodge, Margaret Moeser, and their respective teams coordinated nationwide investigations to bring justice and restore financial losses to hundreds of thousands – in large part due to their collaborative efforts.

Meet Karen and Margaret

Together with Line of Sight to the Mission

Hear from former VA Secretary Bob McDonald on the importance of engaging others as a fundamental attribute of successful leaders.

  • Describe how collaboration would ideally work in my current working environment. What would I like to see?
  • What strengths do each of my team members and stakeholders bring to the table?
    • How can I most effectively use these strengths towards the goal?
  • How might I carve out roles and co-ownership among team members?
Additional resources

READ: Best Practices and Leading Practices in Collaboration Across Governments, Nonprofits, and the Private SectorGovernment Accountability Office (GAO)

WATCH: The Kronos Quartet as a Dot Cloud – The New York Times 

WATCH: Cultivating Collaboration: Don’t be so Defensive – Jim Tamm, Author of Radical Collaboration and former Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Build inclusive, representative and respectful teams.  

“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions and outcomes for everyone.”

– Sundar Pichai, CEO Alphabet Inc (and Google LLC)


Government’s Lack of Diversity in Leadership Positions

A look inside the current diversity landscape of Senior Executive Service positions and why it’s important to create opportunities for a more diverse collection of leaders in government.

Read the post

Importance of Diversity and Inclusion

Hear former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion at NASA.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Comes From the Top

In this clip, General Les Lyles talks about the importance of prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion from the top.

  • To what extent do I understand unconscious bias, and have I taken any steps to mitigate my own biases?
  • When dealing with a workplace conflict, how often do I recognize both the intent behind an action/statement and the impact that action/statement caused?
  • What steps do I take to increase inclusivity and accessibility in my workplace?
Additional resources

READ: Uncovering Talent: A New Model for Inclusion – Deloitte University 

READ: Commitment to a Diverse WorkforceU.S. Department of Labor

WATCH: Color Blind or Color Brave? – Mellody Hobson, Investment expert and contributor to CBS News and Black Enterprise magazine

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