Other parts of this series:
- 10 Leadership Lessons for Transforming Government
- Transforming Government: Leadership Lessons #1 and #2
- Transforming Government Leadership Lesson 3
- Transforming Government: Leadership Lessons #4 and #5
- Transforming Government: Leadership Lessons #6 and #7
- Transforming Government Leadership Lessons #8 and #9
What does it take for government to deliver results that make a real difference to the individuals and families it serves? By “results,” I don’t mean making existing processes run faster. I’m talking about turning the government back office into a center of innovation—and making a major dent in the generational debt many states are carrying.
While there isn’t a simple answer to solving the public sector’s most challenging problems, there is a common thread: the need for transformative leaders who are ready to stop tuning and start transforming.
I aimed to be that kind of leader during my 30 years of service in the public sector. I started as a budget analyst for the Massachusetts Legislature before moving to the Executive Branch and serving six governors—first as budget director and then as Comptroller of the Commonwealth for 16 years.
In that time, I developed leadership principles to guide my thinking, management philosophy and actions. Some were inspired by my mentors, some from observing others’ approaches to leadership (good and bad). Of course, these principles also reflect what I learned from my own successes and, most importantly, my failures.
These principles have helped guide my teams in thinking through difficult issues and decisions. Even as the stakes get higher and the pace of change keeps accelerating for the government back office, I believe they’re valuable to any back-office leader working to achieve true transformation:
Focus on what drives your goals.
Share credit. Own accountability.
Test thinking against your moral and ethical compass.
Don’t expend political capital. Invest it.
Assume the best in others (until they prove you wrong).
Build collaboration with peers.
Never underestimate the value of an apology.
Teach employees to be “flowers,” not “toadstools.”
Support employees’ growth—even if it’s outside the organization.
Relax and listen to some Grateful Dead.
In upcoming blog posts, I’ll explore these in more detail. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on some of the leadership lessons you’ve learned in your own career.
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