Public Service Leadership Model

Public Service Leadership Model

Public Service Leadership Model

The standard for effective federal leadership

Public servants aren’t driven by a financial 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?”

That’s why we developed the Public Service Leadership Model, the standard for effective federal leadership. The model identifies the four core values leaders must prioritize, and the critical competencies they must demonstrate, 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.

Read our article in Harvard Business Review Call to action from our Government Leadership Advisory Council


The model identifies four key leadership competencies—and several sub competencies— federal leaders need to grasp to best serve our country in the 21st century. The four competencies align with and supplement the Office of Personnel Management’s Executive Core Qualifications, providing leaders with a clear guide to address government’s current and future challenges.

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.

Four key leadership competencies

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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The Core Values of Government Leadership

When federal employees enter public service, they swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. This oath serves as a true north for federal leaders who serve the American people.

Federal leaders should emulate two core values, each uniquely relevant to government, to live up to the highest ideals of public service.

Stewardship of Public Trust

Given the vast influence, power and resources of our government, trust in federal leaders and their integrity is paramount. Federal leaders represent the public and must be held to the highest standards. 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 and promote the general welfare, they need a deep-rooted belief in the value of public service and a strong commitment to the public good.

Read the commitment to public good case study

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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