The Essence of a Public Servant
I have been thinking long and hard about this and have figured out what keeps me tied to my job in the public sector. It's not the many layers of bureaucracy or the political games that we play that tie me to my desk. Yeah, I know I love to thrive on chaos (which is my favorite topic to write about) but I think that it is even more elementary than that. What makes me the perfect public servant is that I love to help people and I love to work to make things (work, community, society) right.
I love to enable those around me to succeed. Sounds a bit sappy but its true.
Rather than compete in corporate America for the corner office, parking spot and quarterly bonuses, I thrive on solving the chaos around me. It's a bit more challenging to work with a turbulent environment. It keeps me on my toes and really tests my leadership abilities. It would be boring if everything was perfect. Throw in employee issues, budgetary constraints, political appointments and unions into the mix and see what you come up with. Everyday is a different day with new challenges. I like to throw away the "band aids" and all the "quick-fix" solutions and problem solve for today, tomorrow and the future.
A good public servant should be there because they want to help. You shouldn't be working as a public servant if this is the "best" that you can do or you just want the "security". Working with the public and the community is not an easy task. Patience, empathy, and listening skills will get you far. Knowing you job duties and understanding your environment and organization will get you even farther.
A good public servant should also be a good follower. Good followers turn into good leaders. Good followers work within the guidelines and set the examples. They have the power to make or break the leaders.
I think a good public servant should have vision. A good leader in the public sector will constantly ask him/herself: What can I do to make this better? Always think outside of the box. Never feel threatened by your opinion or if your viewpoints stray from the norm. Don't always agree just to fit in. Have your own voice and be heard. Use your knowledge and skills to make your point not your self-interested motives.
And above all, appreciate your fellow public servants.
Remember, we are all in the same boat and we all are working for the same cause.