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Leadership advice from top-level public administrators

One of the joys of my professional life is gathering leaders to share collective wisdom from lessons learned, whether it’s at a community symposium or in one of my Arizona State University courses focused on leadership for change, public administration, and community development.

I recently gathered a group of high-level public administrators to share lessons learned from many years of leadership service.  The panel included city managers, police chiefs, public healthcare administrators, U.S. Congressional staff, arts/culture and economic development leaders, city planners, and more.

My final question was this: What ONE bit of advice would you share for growing your leadership skills in times of constant change?  Without a lot of editorial comment, I wanted to share their answers, plain and simple. 

Which of these could inspire your leadership path forward while providing encouragement to your staff, your colleagues/co-workers, and those in your life? 

  1. Build a circle of supporters.
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. Learn to say “no.”
  4. Celebrate small successes.
  5. Unplug.  Incorporate personal fitness as you unplug!
  6. Ask – what went WELL?  Negativity breeds negativity – so focus on what’s positive and do No. 4 – celebrate successes!
  7. Delegate.
  8. Step back… be creative by seeing the world through a new lens.
  9. Manage fears by explaining the focus of your job now… don’t get too far ahead (of your work group) …  (of others who need to be convinced) … (of yourself!).  Explain the focus of your tasks in the “now” and why that work is critical right now.
  10. Don’t be afraid! Fear paralyzes.
  11. Know the value that you bring to the table.

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