One of the biggest challenges the federal government faces today is technology modernization. In the rush to get caught up and become more aligned with modern-day technological advancements, one thing has become crystal clear — government won’t be able to modernize without the right leadership in place.  

The modernization conversation typically falls on the topic of technology, but the reality is — without the right expertise and skillset from the surrounding team, even the best technologies don’t have a chance to create value.

If you want to start seeing REAL change and growth in your agency, it’s going to start with your leadership team. Innovative leaders are essential to the government’s modernization plan, so today we’re going to share with you the top traits to look for when filling those leadership roles.

Want more innovative leaders on your team? Here are the top traits to look for.

  • Can bridge the innovation and mission strategies
  • Possesses a strong customer or end-user focus
  • Believes in (and works toward) building reciprocal trust
  • Committed to doing what’s right for the organization and customer, no matter what
  • Understands the importance and value of upward communication
  • Has the ability to be persuasive
  • Values experimentation, learning, and speed
  • Excels at setting and meeting stretch goals
  • Believes in candid and transparent communication
  • Has the ability to inspire and motivate others through their actions

Additionally, there are some other things you want to look for when seeking out innovative leaders to add to your team.

Successful innovative leaders are comfortable with being uncomfortable. They have a natural tendency to persevere through any challenge and won’t give up until they’ve become successful.

The best innovative leaders understand scope and can communicate effectively with all team members, regardless of personality differences. They recognize and appreciate their teams, achieve quick wins, and always implement measures to monitor their successes and failures.

Saving the best for last, it’s time to talk about identifying problems and opportunities. The most effective innovative leaders will possess an uncanny ability to identify problems and opportunities and be able to see which problems have the potential to yield the biggest impact to the end-user. Focusing on the end-user means that the solutions created will be impactful, adopted, and sustainable — three things that should not be taken lightly, as we all know how difficult they are to achieve.

Identifying problems and opportunities

Getting buy-in from the team (and other departments that have a say) is one of the most critical steps of getting the momentum and resources to truly develop impactful solutions.

The process to get buy-in? It’s not overly complicated if you follow these steps.

Step 1

Establish the need for a solution. What is the basic need and outcome, and who will benefit?

Step 2

Justify the need. Is it aligned with your agency’s overall strategy? What are the desired benefits and how will you measure them?

Step 3

Contextualize the problem. What solutions have already been tried and failed? What are the internal and external hurdles to implementing a solution?

Step 4

Write the problem statement. How many layers of problems are below your initial problem? What requirements must a solution meet and which problem-solvers should be engaged? How will solutions be evaluated and measured?

Following this problem identification process will set leaders up for success and help them to achieve buy-in for their proposed solutions.

Successful innovative government leaders possess certain traits you want to look for when building out your team. Before you make your next hire, check back to this list to ensure you’re getting leaders with the best traits and processes to identify problems and opportunities.

Subscribe to receive a monthly roundup of all things tech & government →