Young leaders told to expect ambiguity

About 40 young government employees gathered June 8 at the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington, D.C., to network and talk about becoming leaders in the federal government.

A panel of experts discussed how to motivate employees and what skills employees need as first-line supervisors. Much of the discussion focused making the transition from employee to first-line supervisor.

Jeri Buchholz, director of human resources at the U.S. International Trade Commission, shared her ideas about the necessity of being a leader who can adjust to employees' various learning styles.

Cynthia Yee, director of the Acquisition Career Development Program at the Energy Department, offered another suggestion: Give employees wings and let them go. “What really motivates [employees] is empowering them,” she said.

Peter Edelman, a second-year intern in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Emerging Leaders Program, also spoke on the panel. The event's sponsors were Young Government Leaders and 13L, two federal employee groups, and NAPA.

Yee and Buchholz said that to rise through the ranks in the federal government, employees must learn to manage in an environment in which the best answers or actions are rarely clear-cut.

“The higher up you go, the more ambiguity you need to be able to juggle,” Buchholz said.

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