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Best of TPM: Advice from U.S. Coast Guard on How to Lead from the Inside Out

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Mon Jul 23 2012

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Featured Article: So Satisfying: Leading From the Middle in the Coast Guard

Best of TPM: Advice from U.S. Coast Guard on How to Lead from the Inside Out

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By Geoffrey Abbott

Geoffrey Abbott is a retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain. He conducted this research as part of a National Graduate School doctoral dissertation entitled “Improving Organizational Performance through Innovation and Workforce Empowerment.” He served in the Coast Guard for 30 years, spending the last few years developing the innovation program innovation in the public sector

In “So Satisfying: Leading from the Middle in the Coast Guard,” Geoffrey Abbott describes how, after Hurricane Katrina, the Coast Guard essentially brought on innovation from the inside out. He describes how and why the innovation came about as well as the benefits of such innovations.

  Excerpt Taken Directly From “So Satisfying: Leading From the Middle in the Coast Guard”

“Federal executives and managers should take heed of a few recommendations from the Coast Guard research as they work to energize employees and improve job satisfaction while increasing workforce productivity in tough budgetary times.

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  • When supporting workforce empowerment, strong visible and personal leadership engagement is critical.

  • When making hiring decisions, consider a potential employee’s motivation level; it may prove more important in the long run than experience.

  • Investing in employee’s strengths and empowering them in those areas may provide a better return on investment for an agency than attempting to fill gaps in individuals’ overall professional portfolios.

  • When rewarding and recognizing people, think carefully. Senor leader recognition of good work in front of peers, combined with their implementation of good ideas, are very meaningful to innovators, often much more so than monetary rewards.”

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