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Potential and Planning Were Consistent Themes at the Sold-Out 2018 Executive Forum

With co-sponsors The Federal Executive Institute and Hooks Book Events, FEIAA developed an exciting event on “Dynamic Leadership for Challenging Times.”

Dynamic leadership is a critical competency for those at the forefront of public service—executives who must maneuver through an ever-changing environment marked by increasing demands to achieve their organization’s mission.

With guidance from captivating speakers, attendees learned about the power of inspiration and communicating
that feeling as a leader, leading up effectively, empowering teams, and more. Speakers included best-selling author Daniel Pink, whose research-based, actionable books on chronobiology and other topics are popular among executive leaders. Pink’s afternoon keynote— which he joked was poorly timed—focused on the best times of day to do certain things. “We think timing is an art, but it’s really a science based on research, data, and evidence,” he said, explaining that the hidden patterns of our day affect performance more than we realize. In corporate America, afternoon earnings calls tend to be more negative than morning calls. In the education field, tests should be given first thing in the morning to maximize student performance. Time of day effects can explain up to 20 percent of our variance in performance.

Offering practical advice, Pink said, “When organizations schedule meetings, they only use one criteria: availability. ‘Who’s available and is there an empty room?’ We need to think about the type of meetings and the type of people. Is the meeting analytic? Are a lot of larks (morning people) going to attend? … We need more strategic thinking about the meetings that we spend so much time in.”

A lot of these meetings involve communication and our role as leaders to inspire people to act—the topic leadership coach and author Kristi Hedges tackled in her morning presentation. To be an inspirational leader, she reminded attendees, be present by listening, asking, breathing, and centering oneself. Taking one deep breath before diving into a new task can change a person’s energy and presence. Listening—not for data and not to form a response, but really listening—is one of the top qualities of inspirational leaders, Hedges noted. She also talked about fostering true buy-in on projects by enabling team members to co-create projects and feel ownership of them.

Morning speaker Rob Kramer, who teaches action-based leadership, talked about leading up in the workplace, which itself requires vision, courage, patience, and effective communications. To be able to lead up, or influence those above you in a positive way, you must be seen as a high performer. Leading up also requires building a relationship of trust, leveraging power and influence strategically, and focusing on what you can change.

Leading effective also requires agility, according to speaker Russ Linden. While that’s not exactly something
our government was designed for in the 1800s, agility requires leadership—what he called “eyes-on, hands-off
leadership.” Empowering your front line, creating a shared consciousness, and flexibility can accomplish this.

All of this will add up to leaving a legacy of service, leadership, and integrity, noted Daphne Jefferson, who
started as a GS-5 and retired from the Senior Executive Service—only to return from retirement to continue serving. “Your legacy begins today.”


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