ATD Blog

Strategies for Effective Leadership in the Public Sector

Friday, October 16, 2020

Business and the public sector are confronting new challenges. In the search for the best talent and recruitment strategies, a number of imperatives are becoming pretty clear.

Case in point: Leaders who are trying to develop the skills of workforce managers are thinking about ways to flip the script and innovate to avoid problems with talent disruption. This involves building more agile workforce processes and anticipating problems such as turnover or low morale, as well as a struggle to attract the best talent overall.

So, how do you fulfill that mandate to improve your leadership game for those purposes?

Investing in Human Capital Tools

One basic place to start modernizing an approach to talent is that organizations will have to invest in talent management tools and resources in ways they may have not done before.

This extends to studies and knowledgebase materials and new IT tools. The old digital recruiting channel that has been so often used just might not cut it anymore. As experts point out, technology should no longer be a stumbling block; it should be a key decision support tool for agile workforce management. This requires a willingness to think outside the box, to push innovation, and to learn how to use new tools—all of which may seem daunting or labor-intensive. However, these initiatives are likely to pay off in the end.

Diversity Is Key

There's also the need for recruiting that builds a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. Agencies that can successfully build diversity are better poised to handle the mission-critical aspects of their work. That said, federal talent recruiters are getting serious about this type of inclusion.


“It's really empowering to see the organizations that are taking these initiatives seriously, and incorporating them into their talent management initiatives,” says Steve Dobberowsky, senior principal of thought leadership and advisory services at Cornerstone, in a recent panel discussion, “but we're seeing a movement going from diversity and inclusion, to equity and belonging.”

Creating a culture that inspires people is a central goal, and diversity is one of the pillars on which this gets accomplished. People want to know that everyone will have input opportunities and be valued as a part of an inclusive workplace.

Free Up Remote Work Models

Dobberowsky also talks about geographically dispersed staff.

“The federal government is primarily headquartered in Washington, DC, and therefore we’ve assumed our talent pool is within the geographical constraints of DC or wherever the headquarters is,” Dobberowsky says. “The COVID-19 situation has taught us our talent pool is much bigger . . . because we’re allowing geographically dispersed applicants to apply.”


As Dobberowsky mentions, going remote unlocks a vast talent pool, and changes the ways that recruitment happens, exposing the company to a bigger world of talent. That can be instrumental in solving some of the issues brought by competitive talent scenarios in the public sector or elsewhere.

In-House, External, or Contract Workforce Strategies

Many agencies use a combination of in-house promotion and external recruiting to drive workforce management strategies. Some use robust internship programs or other in-house recruiting methods to supplement their searches for outside talent.

What many of the best organizations have in common is a deliberate emphasis on attraction and upscaling that will create the capable workforces they will need in the future.

With these types of competitive strategies, organizations are able to find the people with the skills they need—professionals who can deeply understand artificial intelligence, decision support, data-driven modeling, and the use of business intelligence. That is a big job, but the best leaders are showing they are up to the task.

About the Author

Brett Wilson is a seasoned business operations executive who has spent the past 20 years pioneering major business growth strategies and improving business units for the training industry. His primary expertise is in strategic talent management, particularly in the areas of L&D and business process design.

Brett joined Cornerstone OnDemand in 2013 as the practice leader for L&D within the business consulting group. He is now a principal consultant in Cornerstone’s thought leadership and advisory services directorate.   Prior to joining Cornerstone, Brett held executive management positions where he provided leadership and consulting to hundreds of commercial and government clients. He is recognized as an industry thought leader in L&D. Brett holds a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Illinois, Carbondale.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.