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FCW : March 15, 2013
The keys to building your leadership team Agencies are too complicated to be managed at a distance by a small cadre of political appoin- tees developing a strategy and then directing a larger body of career staff to execute against that strategy. Such an approach will run into obstacles that could have been avoided with a wider initial conversation between your politi- cal staff and career staff. It needs to be a joint effort. Leverage the senior career staff: Find whom to listen to and on what Your agency is large and complex, with all the vices of a large bureau- cracy. It has a cadre of senior career managers who are ready and able to get that large bureau- cracy to do what you want it to do. Those senior career managers support your agency s mission and recognize that they need politi- cal leadership to achieve it. Those senior managers will be critical to your success but are also part of that same bureaucracy. The senior career managers overseeing this bureaucracy are skilled at getting the bureaucracy to move forward, although their approaches may sometimes stick too close to the traditional. The vehicle may be obsolete, but they know how to drive it. You will nd many people in your agency at both senior and lower levels who have an entrepreneurial bent. Unlike the private-sector entrepreneur who pursues pro t, these government entrepreneurs pursue program results or transformation. They care about the mission and know how to get the larger organization to move in a desired direction. Many have good ideas on how to improve service delivery that will assist you in your own agenda. Your senior leadership team can help you leverage this entrepreneur- ial energy as well as get the bureau- cratic behemoth you now manage to move in the right direction. However, you may need differ- ent skills from those your agency needed in the past. You may nd some of your staff too wedded to the status quo and too quick to explain why the way things work is the way things should be. Your most important skill will be gur- ing out whom to listen to and on what. When some people tell you not to take a course of action, they may be warning you against very real dangers. When others warn you against a course of action, they may simply be embracing tradition- al ways of operating. You will need to gure out who are the former and who are the latter. Further, you will nd that one person has good insights in one area and poor ones in another. One may be good on the politics but weak on program realities. One may be strong on program issues but oblivious to the political rami cations. Leveraging the right strengths from the right people leads to suc- cess. Not listening at all or listening to the wrong people on the wrong issues risks failure. Hire senior political staff with the right political talents Your career staff is largely in place but will be less effective without political leadership. Selection of your political appointees will be Bookshelf 30 March 15, 2013 FCW.COM An excerpt from the IBM Center for the Business of Government's "Getting It Done: A Guide for Government Executives," newly revised for 2013
March 30, 2013