I am sure there are plenty of articles on how to be successful in the Federal Government, but I believe that relationship management, taking ownership and how you dress are key components to being successful.
Throughout our careers we will work with, for, and supervise numerous people. Effectively managing those relationships are critical to success in the Federal Government. Whether you are setting the agenda or playing a support role, developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with others in the workplace will lend to your credibility and character. Communication plays a key role in relationship management as well. Talk with your coworkers, supervisors and subordinates. What are their goals? What can you learn from each other? Maintaining that communication after you depart the organization is equally important, whether it is through a simple e-mail during the holidays or meeting up for lunch. While communication is imperative to maintaining a healthy relationship, the crucial component is honesty and trustworthiness. You should always do the right thing and be dependable. When you walk into a room, you should be able to hold your head up high, because no one can point at you and say that you could not be trusted or that you were not dependable.
As we begin our career, some may find it difficult to exercise leadership and management skills in the workplace. Whether you are an intern or just new to Federal Government, you may feel that you are not able to display your potential for greater responsibilities to your supervisor and senior managers. While you may not be running your department anytime soon, I believe that you can display your potential by taking ownership of smaller projects within your organization. Look for projects you can run such as a holiday party or summer social. These events have the same basic components of any other project: coordination, planning, scope definition, budget and time management. Take ownership of these projects and give them your very best. Not only will you receive recognition, your supervisors and senior managers will know what you are capable of and consider you for roles of greater responsibility.
While the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” rings true, it is unfortunately not the case as we initially judge others by their appearance. How you dress can definitely send the wrong signals as a sloppy appearance may lead colleagues to believe that you do not care, or pay attention to detail. It may be that your peers or supervisors might not take you seriously. A mentor once shared a story from early in her career on dressing. She was in her twenties and dressed stylishly, but as a mid-level manager, her colleagues and subordinates did not take her seriously as she was sending off all the wrong signals. Fortunately, her mentor soon pulled her in and shared with her the importance of dressing for success. As you progress throughout your career, it is important to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
There is no one road to success as we all take different paths to reach our goals. I wish you the best of luck in your career and may you become a future leader in Federal Government.
Shaun Khalfan, Strategic Planning Committee
Young Government Leaders