Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • March 11, 2016

5 Critical Skills Every Leader in Public Service Should Have

Leading is challenging in any environment. Leading in the public sector can be even more so. And when a public service leader holds multiple roles, that environment can become increasingly complicated.

The work of a public servant is never done. But it does need to be done well.

Great work and great leadership often go hand-in-hand. So when it comes to success, good leaders tend to share these five key qualities across the board that make them both competent managers and effective public servants. Which begs the question, do you demonstrate any of these qualities in your everyday work?

1. Good leaders motivate and encourage others.

Public employees are often faced with increased workloads and added stress as a result of declining resources. Government leaders are then tasked with the challenge of motivating and encouraging their staff in this bleak environment. But good leaders can shift employees’ attitudes for the better without promising compensation-driven incentives or leveraging fear. Instead, good leaders create supportive atmospheres and encourage initiative. They invest in their people and foster skill development. And when employees are satisfied in a healthy environment, great results will follow.

2. Good leaders communicate clearly and listen attentively. 

Good leaders must be able to communicate a vision and interact productively with a diverse and ever-changing workforce and citizenry in a way that inspires action. And one of the most powerful ways to inspire action, and conversely, one of the hardest, is to listen. When good leaders listen to the needs and challenges of their communities sincerely, they can respond effectively and bring about the greatest change. 

3. Good leaders are trustworthy.

Trustworthiness is built upon integrity and character. People trust and follow leaders when those leaders exude the types of behaviors they value themselves. Building trust can take time and is no easy task, but it is a valuable effort to make, if sincere. When people trust leaders and value their integrity, they tend to be more open to new ideas and exude a willingness to try.

4. Good leaders think critically. 

Good public governance requires good leaders who are effective decision makers in the policy process. Solving significant issues and affecting the greatest change requires careful consideration and analysis of the evidence before formulating a decision. So having strong analytical, problem solving and critical thinking skills is essential to the job.  

5. Good leaders are resilient.

In the world of public policy and governance, the only constant is change. Budgets get cut. Resources shrink. People come and go. But leaders must be able to respond accordingly and continue to produce results amidst an ever-evolving landscape. Good leaders assume these challenges and develop alternative solutions. They remain positive during difficult times. And most importantly, they encourage confidence in their employees so, they too, will remain effective at the most crucial times.

Are you prepared to lead? Discover how you can enhance your leadership skills and grow as a leader with an online master's degree in Public Service Leadership

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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