Mid-Level Leadership Stories
Of the stories that have been published about effective leadership in government, the vast majority discuss leaders at the senior level (e.g. members of the Senior Executive Service, General Officers, or political appointees). There are numerous effective mid-level leaders within the Federal Government, but their stories are seldom told in a forum where they can be shared with others and used as a learning tool. Many of these stories offer real and compelling lessons for those who aspire to become more effective leaders.
The effectiveness of mid-level leaders has a very significant impact on the
success or failure of Federal Government agencies. As such, it should be
important for both senior leaders and more junior aspiring leaders to
examine the views and lessons of mid-level leaders in the Federal
The following collection of stories is a result of the work of the 2007 Fall Session Excellence in Government Fellows Program Group 2 Results Team. The collection captures stories of mid-level leadership from five different Federal Government agencies. For the purposes of the leadership stories in this collection, a mid-level leader is defined as GS-14/15 or Lt Col/Col equivalents.
The stories include:
- “Accepting the Challenge: Lessons in Recognizing Leadership Opportunities”
by Ray M. Crawford, Jr. (Department of Education)
- “Making Paper Airplanes Fly” by Melanie Hoff (Environmental Protection
- “Leaders Aren’t Just Born” by LaTonya Kittles (National Cancer Institute)
- “From Typist to Leader: A Story of Success in the Federal Government” by
Kathy Ellis (Department of Homeland Security)
- “Let’s Prove Them Wrong” by Brian Schultz (Department of the Air Force)
While each of these stories offers unique perspectives and lessons, there
are also some common themes. A clear vision of where the leader wants to
take the organization is an important element in leading people.
Communicating this vision and getting buy-in must also occur if the vision
is to be attained. Dedication and persistence are also prevalent in these
stories. Empowering your staff and letting them do their jobs without undue
interference and micromanagement are also addressed. Finally, a leader must
take care of their people to ensure they have the tools and resources they
need to get the job done.
Our results team hopes that other stories can be added to this collection and shared with those interested in learning leadership lessons. Our vision is that this will become an enduring project that has lasting value for leaders at all levels, in both the public and private sectors!