Leading Change

Leading Change

Public Service Leadership Model

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:

Vision setting Influence Innovation and creativity Embracing risk and uncertainty Adaptability

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

Thumbnail for Meeting the Moment: Tips for Building Bold Strategic Plans and Turning Them into Results
Meeting the Moment: Tips for Building Bold Strategic Plans and Turning Them into Results
Tips for Building Bold Strategic Plans and Turning Them into Results
This report presents the findings from workshops and supplemental interviews conducted by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton Public Sector to learn more about federal strategic planning teams.
Thumbnail for 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.

Thumbnail for 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.”

  • 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 GovExec.com

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

Thumbnail for The Five Levels of Organizational Influence: Where Are You?

Determining where you fit in the organizational power continuum can be a critical component of actively managing your career trajectory.

Thumbnail for 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.

Thumbnail for 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.

  • 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

Thumbnail for Unimagined Vision

Think about innovation and creativity as short-term goals. How might teams make, create, implement the next best product or service and iterate from there versus having a full long-term plan in place.

Thumbnail for 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.

Thumbnail for Leading Innovation in Government

In this report, the Partnership for Public Service and Hay Group set out to understand what these leaders have in common that allow them to build climates of innovation and deliver results when others have stalled.

  • 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

Thumbnail for Advice For Dealing With Uncertainty — From People Who’ve Been There

Read this article, or listen to the podcast, to understand the 7 keys for dealing with uncertainty in the workplace.

Thumbnail for Risk and Reward: A Framework for Federal Innovation

From curing diseases to helping launch the internet, the federal government has a history of innovation that has improved the lives of Americans and advanced societal interests. Despite this legacy, outdated systems, rules and processes hinder innovation at a time when government must grapple with a wide array of critical and complex 21st-century challenges.

Thumbnail for 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

Thumbnail for Resilient: Keeping Your Wits—Workforce, Innovation, Technology, Security—About You

More so than any crisis in a generation, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a resilient government. The Partnership for Public Service– working with the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council and MeriTalk, and with support from corporate partners– surveyed 300 federal leaders about their lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. This report encapsulates our findings and provides detailed recommendations for future operations, service delivery and policymaking.



Thumbnail for Bright Spots: Federal Success Stories from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid a global pandemic, federal agencies have continued to deliver critical services to the American public. For a deeper look at how our government has forged innovative solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis, read our “bright spots” case studies.

Thumbnail for 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

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