Public Service Recognition Week is dedicated to honoring our public servants. This past year has been a time that we all truly depended upon public leadership during a prolonged crisis. During May and June, we want to encourage everyone to say thank you to the thousands of public servants in cities, towns, schools, states and the federal government who have worked tirelessly to implement communication, testing, tracking and vaccination systems under stressful circumstances while doing their pre-pandemic jobs.
The Public Sector Consortium is a national non-profit which is dedicated to reinventing the practice of public leadership through “sustainable leadership practices”. These leadership skills and practices can be learned and applied by all public leaders. There is no better time to turn our attention to sustainability than April when we celebrate Earth Day on April 22. This year’s theme Restore Our Earth focuses on ways that we can green our planet.
You can learn more about this year’s Earth Day and activities here. If you have 5 minutes of time this video explains the history of Earth Day and could easily be used to start a staff meeting or in a classroom to remind people in your state, city or schools about the importance of Earth Day.
There is no more challenging branch of government to lead and manage than the US executive branch with over 2.2 million Americans in civil service, another 2 million working with the Department of Defense, and 15 executive departments. It is a large complex ship to steer (OPM and OMB Federal Workforce Statistics). The challenge is even more daunting during periods of leadership transition with the political appointees or elected officials learning their new jobs and attempting to build partnerships with the existing civil servants. This particular transition is far more complex with the continuation of the pandemic and subsequent humanitarian and economic challenges.
We often only think about government when we pay taxes, attend jury duty, vote in an election or watch news about a new political conflict or something that has gone wrong. Government services are so much a part of our lives they often go unnoticed or unappreciated until they are not there. Let’s take a look at a day in the life of most Americans.
We wake up in our residence and we live where we do because of zoning laws that local governments establish for where residential and commercial buildings can be built and receive services (water, roads, trash removal, electricity, sewer and gas etc.). Every act that we take throughout the day using; clean water to drink and bathe, electricity, eating the food in our cabinets, wearing clothes, using soap, riding in the car, train, ferries or bus, using the roads and sidewalks, are the result of laws which ensure the safety of the product or resource. Additionally, we have laws which protect the safety and well-being of the citizens who work in the production and delivery of these resources and products we depend on.
The Public Sector Consortium is working on building the first of six competency models (Public Health and Wellness in Municipal Government) as well as focusing on the resiliency skills needed by public leaders to successfully pivot in a rapidly changing landscape.
More than ever resiliency skills and practices are an essential skill set for all professions but most importantly for Public Leaders. Unlike any other profession public leadership competencies are what we all depend on to thrive. It is important to note that resiliency can mean something very different in tenured work- places like government and educational institutions that were designed and structured for continuity and stability. This differs significantly from the private sector where innovation and new products are often the source of their revenues.
This month we focus on the important role of Public Leaders to educate and gain agreement on the unvarnished facts about the current reality. A leader’s willingness to confront the current reality with co-workers and citizens is an act of respect. It is the only way to focus on the gap between where you are and where you want to go. Without this collective understanding and agreement achieving shared goals and making shared decisions is impossible.
“Public Leaders educate and gain agreement on the unvarnished facts about the current reality. A leader’s willingness to confront the current reality with co-workers and citizens is an act of respect. It is the only way to focus on the gap between where you are and where you want to go. Without this collective understanding and agreement achieving shared goals and making shared decisions is impossible.”
Independence Day 2020 is nothing like what we may have collectively planned or imagined. We have experienced a renewed respect for the importance of skilled public leaders, educators and professionals during this world-wide health crisis. The professionals on the front lines have made tremendous personal sacrifices on our behalf. Reported levels of exhaustion from the four months of long workdays, rapid learning curves and critical decision making have left many public leaders ready for a time-out which we hope they can take.
“There is no question that we are learning daily as we reach for technology platforms to conduct distance meetings and teach the millions of students who would normally be in classrooms. We are all learning through trial and error that each platform has different levels of security, architecture and ease in usage.