Critical Skills for Public Sector Leaders in the New Economy

November 4, 2019 Ernie Paskey



Technology is reshaping our economy in previously unimaginable ways, and public agencies aren’t immune to the impact of these changes.

Public sector leaders have the opportunity to leverage these technologies to improve their own hiring processes. They’ll also need to recruit people who are ready to face the new challenges that these changes create.

Here are three essential skills that public-sector leaders should prioritize as they develop their teams -- and their own skills.

A Willingness to Learn

A willingness to embrace continuous learning sets the stage for adaptability, another critical skill in the digital age. Given the pace of technological change, it’s crucial for your workforce to be able to learn and adapt quickly. Candidates should be willing — or, ideally, eager — to learn new technologies and identify ways to utilize them in achieving organizational objectives.

Technology is here to help move public goals forward, and you need team members who can utilize and adapt the technology for your agency’s needs.

Your team should have an intuitive understanding of the direction workforce technology is taking, and they should be excited to implement it. In the digital age, a workforce hung up on using pen and paper will not succeed. Technology is here to help move public goals forward, and you need team members who can utilize and adapt the technology for your agency’s needs.

An Agile Mindset

Another critical skill of the 21st-century workforce is agility. Agile practices are common in the private sector, but they have value in the public sector as well. Everyone knows the cliché about government agencies being bogged down by bureaucracy, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Your agency needs candidates who can push initiatives forward.

By selecting candidates who are able to rapidly think and work through challenges, you can reduce wasted time in rolling out initiatives. You can count on an agile workforce to take initiative, spot trouble and take the necessary steps to course-correct quickly.

Agility is also an important factor in implementing new technologies, since it relies on iterative trial runs. By selecting nimble, digitally agile workers, you can save time and keep initiatives moving forward with intention and purpose.

Capacity for Resilience

Setbacks will occur in any project. Resilience keeps things moving forward. Resilient and adaptable candidates find ways to advance work, despite setbacks. They have the strength to withstand the temptation to give up.

Recruiting for resilience, agility and adaptability will give you a well-rounded candidate base, and help you build a team dedicated to overcoming adversity to achieve your organization’s goals now and into the future.

Download our white paper, Building the Government Workforce of the Future to learn more about how public sector organizations can best position themselves to compete for top talent and create a workforce that can thrive in the digital age.

About the Author

Ernie Paskey

Ernie is the North America Assessment Practice Leader and leads talent strategy for Aon’s assessment and selection services. He has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors and is an acknowledged thought leader in assessment and selection practices. He helps clients by providing effective solutions related to selection, employee engagement, succession planning, and leadership development.

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