Emerging Leaders Academy graduation – Faculty Reflections from Director Laura Howard

PMC Director, Laura Howard, gives her reflections about the course from the instructor perspective.

PMC Director, Laura Howard, gives her reflections about the course from the instructor perspective.

Comments Delivered by Public Management Center Director, Laura Howard

On January 11th, 2017

Good afternoon, everyone.  I am so pleased to be able to share some reflections on the occasion of this Emerging Leaders Academy Graduation Ceremony. It’s been great to participate as faculty in this Emerging Leaders Academy.  I’ve been privileged to get to know in a small way some very dedicated public servants

I have watched individuals learn and grow from session to session. Learning something one day and applying it at work the next day. I have listened to individuals and observed their dedication to both personal growth and organizational success.  I’ve seen folks moving eagerly, outside of their comfort zones.   I have listened to individuals learn new ideas or strategies to advance in their own workplace from people who work in entirely different organizations.

Before I introduce our keynote speaker, I’d like to say a few words to our graduates and to their organizations.

Your organizations chose well when they chose you.   As you finish this Emerging Leaders Academy, I would urge you to:

  • Continue on the journey to recognize, use and leverage your strengths; [Remember, Gallup has found that when people understand and apply their strengths, the effect on their lives and work is transformational. People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life.]
  • Own your career – be the protagonist of your own career, not a supporting character;

In his farewell speech, I heard President Obama share some thoughts that I think relate well to the idea of owning your own future – President Obama said:

Show Up, Dive In, and Stay At It – Persist, and Sometimes You’ll Win. 

These are wise words – Showing Up is the first step.  You’ve done that.   And when you show up, don’t sit back passively – dive in with your ideas and passion.   And know that sometimes things are hard, and success takes persistence, and sometimes a different path than what we have planned.  Show Up, Dive In, Persist.

And to the organizations and employers, first I would say thank you for identifying and investing in your emerging leaders.   Thank you for understanding the importance of this investment not just to individual development but to organizational success.   But, just as I’ve encouraged the graduates today, I would also urge the employers and sponsoring agencies to:

  • Use these graduates; they’re ready and eager to contribute to the agency as a whole;
  • Let them take risks; give them permission to succeed and to ‘fail forward’’;
  • Look for engagement opportunities;
  • Look for ways to explicitly link the individual development goals of your emerging leader to your organizational goals;
  • Give your emerging leader a chance to help solve some of the biggest challenges you are facing as an organization – let them see behind the curtain; create opportunities for them to share their insights and ideas, and to volunteer for new challenges – this might mean creating ways for them to have a meaningful effect across your whole organization;
  • In the same way that you made a significant investment through sponsoring participation in the Emerging Leaders Academy, recognize and act on the fact that these emerging leaders are a critical organizational asset, that needs to be nurtured and managed accordingly.

Finally, to the graduates, on behalf of the Public Management Center and all the instructors, thank you for the chance to connect with you over these last several months.  It’s been our pleasure and privilege to be part of this process and to be heartened again by the heart and spirit of those invested in the challenging and rewarding work of public service.

Congratulations again, keep us posted moving forward, and know that you are now and forever part of the Public Management Center Family.