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.

“This model offers public servants a vision for how best to serve our country in today’s society.”

Government Leadership Advisory Council

Call to action from the Government Leadership Advisory Council

As members of the Partnership for Public Service’s Government Leadership Advisory Council, we are proud to stand behind the Public Service Leadership Model. Based on our collective years of leadership across sectors, we believe this framework is the one our government needs to tackle our nation’s 21st-century challenges.

Read our call to action

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.  

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.

Meroe Park is now the executive vice president at the Partnership for Public Service.

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.

How does this apply to you as a leader?

Becoming Self-Aware

Becoming self-aware begins with an introspective understanding of your values, thought patterns and motivations. Being reflective in this way is essential to personal development and better interactions with others. In a complex  and constantly shifting federal environment, self-awareness is an anchor, enabling leaders to stay true to themselves and perform at their highest levels in service to the American public.


Self-reflection: Taking time to regularly reflect on strengths, weaknesses, preferences, values and leadership style; testing personal assumptions and incorporating feedback from others into leadership practices.

Authenticity: Acting in accordance with your true self by recognizing your belief system and taking advantage of your innate strengths.

Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing, discerning and understanding your emotions and those of others; using this information to appropriately manage your reactions and behavior.

Integrity: Following sound moral and ethical principles by prioritizing honesty and trustworthiness.

Continuous Learning: Constantly striving to grow by seeking feedback from others and pursuing opportunities to learn.

Engaging Others

When engaging others, leaders need 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. 


Relationship-building: Communicating effectively to develop trust, cohesion and connection between people and teams to achieve shared goals.

Empowering Others: Providing growth opportunities, autonomy and long-term developmental support for team members.

Conflict Management: Resolving and preventing counterproductive behaviors by understanding individual and group goals and providing a safe space for creative tension and differences of opinion.

Collaboration: Guiding teams to accomplish goals by engaging stakeholders, building on individual strengths, increasing trust and inspiring commitment toward shared goals.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Building teams that are inclusive, representative of the American public and respectful of each person’s differences for maximum cohesion and effectiveness.

Leading Change

Leading change in a rapidly evolving federal environment means initiating, sponsoring and implementing innovative solutions. Leaders also help others be successful at managing change at the individual and organizational level. 


Vision-setting: Formulating, communicating and forging the path forward to achieve the mission.

Influence:  Persuading others by establishing credibility and using data and evidence to garner support for ideas and initiatives.

Innovation and Creativity: Cultivating an environment to encourage improvement, adaptation, invention and freedom to experiment.

Embracing Risk and Uncertainty: Being comfortable with inevitable unpredictability; making it safe for people to take risks and supporting the team regardless of the outcome.

Adaptability: Modifying behavioral style, adjusting mindset and learning new ways to accomplish goals in ever-changing situations.

Achieving Results

Achieving results means managing skillfully, thinking strategically and making good decisions that deliver measurable outcomes and improve the quality of life for the nation and the world. 


Accountability: Holding yourself and others accountable for meaningful results and accepting responsibility for both positive and negative consequences of your decisions​.

Evidence-based Decision-making: Making choices grounded in the best available information and data.

Systems Thinking:  Understanding and navigating the unique system of government to overcome roadblocks and accomplish objectives.

Tech Savviness: Understanding the importance of technology, regardless of technical background, and how it can improve team efficiency and an organization’s ability to meet internal and external needs.

Customer Experience: Acting always with internal and external customers in mind by seeking feedback to improve processes, products and services.

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

© 2019 Partnership for Public Service, Inc. All rights reserved.