Public Service Leadership Model

The standard for effective federal leadership



Public Service Leadership Model – Leading Change

Leading Change

Leading change in a rapidly evolving federal environment means initiating, sponsoring and implementing innovative solutions. As a leader, help others succeed at managing change at an individual and organizational level. The five subcompetencies to leading change include:

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

Vision Setting
Formulate, communicate and forge the path forward to carry out your vision.

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

– Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor and Chair of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative


Leading Innovation Report

Learn from leaders demonstrate positive vision-setting techniques and how they communicate, refine, reframe their vision to others in order to achieve remarkable results in the Partnership’s Leading Innovation in Government Report (2011).

Download the report

Combatting Veteran Homelessness

By aiming to find shelter for all veterans by 2015, Susan Angell and Mark Johnston used a collaborative approach to help combat veteran homelessness in the United States.

Learn more about Susan and Mark

Leading Response Efforts for Disease Crises

Sammies winner Daniel Jernigan combats diseases like Ebola, West Nile virus and SARS. One of his colleagues described him as “able to see very far ahead and where we need to go and find innovative ways to get there.”

Learn more about Daniel

  • What is possible for my career? If all barriers were removed, what would I like to see for myself in 5 years?
  • What is possible for my team/organization? If all barriers were removed, what would I like to see for my team/organization in 5 years?
  • How might I communicate my vision to others?
Additional resources

READ: Four Steps to High-Impact Strategic Planning in Government – Matt Boland, Troy Thomas and Danny Werfel, Current BCG consultants and former government civil servants

READ: How Agency Leaders Can Turn Vision Into Action – Richard Aragon, Andrew Miklos and Claire Schulkey, Contributors at

WATCH: How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek, Author of Start with Why

Persuade others by establishing credibility and using evidence for your ideas.

“Example, whether it be good or bad, has a powerful influence.”

– George Washington, first President of the United States


Leading Change Report

Learn how leaders have used their influence to foster positive changes in government by reading the Partnership’s Leading Change Report (2018).

Download the report

Restoring a broken health care center

Discover how 2019 Federal Employee of the Year, Victoria Braham, used her unwavering determination to influence change and bolster morale at the Tomah VA Medical Center.

Learn more about Victoria

Transforming the Kennedy Space Center

Sammies winner Robert Cabana transformed the Kennedy Space Center into a multiuser, cross-sector launch site, using influence to change the mindset of many and accomplish this impressive result.

Learn more about Robert

  • What impression do I want to make on others to establish credibility? What information might I need to give to others?
  • What is my default style of influencing others? What other styles might I try?
  • When I have a new idea, how might I build buy-in?
Additional resources

READ: In Leadership, Influence is not a Given – Michelle Braden, Forbes Councils Member and CEO of MSBCoach   

READ: Situational Leadership: Relevant Then, Relevant Now – The Center for Leadership Studies  

WATCH: How to Start a Movement – Derek Sivers, Author, speaker and entrepreneur

Innovation and Creativity
Encourage improvement, adaptation and freedom to experiment. 

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

– Peter F. Drucker, management expert and author


Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government Report

Read about the Partnership’s recommendations for implementing innovative practices across the government in Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government Report (2020).

Download the report

Designing a traffic management system

Find out how Parimal Kopardekar and his team designed an innovative traffic management system for unmanned aerial vehicles to make way for the large-scale use of commercial drones.

Learn more about Parimal

10 Characteristics for Innovative Government

Read about the essential characteristics of innovative government organizations in Risk and Reward (2019).

Download the report

  • What systems or processes are in place to encourage new ideas and creative thinking on my team?
  • When changes or setbacks occur, how do we adapt? Is this approach working?
  • What could I address in our office culture that would encourage new, creative ideas and approaches?
Additional resources

READ: Creativity is Not Innovation (But You Need Both) – Business News Daily Editor, Sites: G. Shawn Hunter, Science Times and more

WATCH: What is Design Thinking? – Daylight Design

WATCH: The First Secret of Design is…Noticing – Tony Fadell, Product Designer and Ted Talk Speaker

Embracing Risk and Uncertainty
Make it safe to take risks; support the team regardless of the outcome.

“Be bold, push yourself and get comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

– Angie Gels, Chief People Officer at Everything But The House


Center for Presidential Transition

Presidential traditions can be a source of uncertainty for all government agencies. The Partnership’s Center for Presidential Transition provides insightful resources and best-practices for navigating the change for a new administration or for a president’s second term.

Learn about the Center

Risk and Reward Report

Read about the benefits of testing and implementing new ideas in the Partnership’s Risk and Reward Report (2019).

Download the report

Trusting Yourself and Taking Chances

Sally Jewell, former CEO of REI and former Secretary of the Department of Interior, describe how she and her team took a risk in negotiating with numerous parties to keep a species from being classified as endangered.

  • How comfortable am I with change? How comfortable are my team members with change? 
  • When someone on the team makes a mistake, how is that handled?
  • How do we learn from failure together?
Additional resources

READ: How to Grow Your Career by Embracing Risk – Arlene S. Hirsch, Career counselor and author

READ: Strategies for Learning from Failure – Amy C. Edmondson, Author and Novartis Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School

WATCH: Government – investor, risk-taker, innovator – Mariana Mazzucato, Economist and Ted Talk Speaker

Learn new ways to accomplish goals in ever-changing situations.  

“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”

– Kakuzo Okakaura, Author and scholar


Looking Inward for Talent

Read about how training employees and equipping them with new skills are key to adapting to new ways of work in the Partnership’s Looking Inward for Talent Report (2019).

Download the report

Decreasing Energy Consumption

Adapting to the need for energy efficiency, learn how Jeffrey M. Baker led the design and construction of an awe-inspiring net-zero energy office building.

Learn more about Jeffrey

Sally Jewell on Adaptability

Sally Jewell, former CEO of REI and former Secretary of the Department of Interior, speaks about adaptability.

  • What makes adaptability difficult in my work environment? What enables or supports adaptability?
  • How might I quickly recognize when an approach is not working?
  • What aspects of my leadership style feel least flexible? How might I practice flexing?
Additional resources

READ: Train Your Brain for Change – Daniel Goleman, Author and behavioral scientist

READ: Learn to Adapt – CCL, Center for Creative Leadership

WATCH: 3 Ways to Measure Your Adaptability – Natalie Fratto, Investor and Ted Talk Speaker

© 2020 Partnership for Public Service, Inc. All rights reserved.