Management Matters Management MattersManagement Matters
Practical advice for federal leaders on managing people, processes and projects.

Who Are the Real The Job Creators?


We've been hearing the term on a loop for the past year or so -- “job creator.” In Congress, this phrase has become synonymous with entrepreneur or small business owner, showing the extent to which some lawmakers are hanging their hopes for economic recovery on those individuals. But aren’t managers true job creators?

Several months ago, Esther Dyson, startup investor and chief executive officer of EDventure Holdings, a technology content firm, wrote in Slate that the United States should glorify entrepreneurs less and managers more. After all, she says, an entrepreneur’s innovative idea is “worth little if the business around it does not operate reliably—producing the soup every day, or delivering the application without bugs and with well-timed upgrades.” 

The real spur to job creation and economic growth isn’t turning hundreds of college grads into entrepreneurs, but hiring thousands and thousands of workers into growing companies that can organize and motivate them and make the best use of their talents. And that takes a cadre of talented managers.

In the private sector, the connection is clear -- a well-managed company is more likely to be profitable and efficient, allowing it to grow and hire more workers. In government, managers can only hope that their own efficiency translates into larger appropriations for hiring from Congress, but in some cases the opposite is true. Greater respect for the savings and growth that good management can achieve in both the public and private sectors, however, could translate to support for these job creators.

In December 2011, the Government Accountability Office submitted a report to Congress criticizing federal management of the cybersecurity workforce, saying initiatives needed better planning and coordination. GAO pointed to inconsistencies in training, compensation, incentives and metrics as the problems; in other words, the cybersecurity workforce was not being properly managed at the senior or supervisory levels. 

The watchdog’s annual high-risk list is littered with more areas that need improved management. But the standard responses to these deep-seated problems rarely involve a discussion of how managers can be empowered to tackle them.  

This is why Dyson’s thinking is so important. Washington is looking to small business owners to jump-start the economy and wants to provide them with all the tools they need. Businesses are able to have discussions about what needs to be changed to see better results, without placing blame for the existing struggles. Federal managers face hurdles, just like small business owners; a goal-oriented discussion of how these hurdles can be removed could help managers feel that their contribution is valued. 

In a 2010 survey by Grant Thornton LLP and the Partnership for Public Service, federal human resources officials identified the leadership capabilities of federal managers as a key obstacle to building a first-class workforce. They said training and development programs in leadership and workforce management are significantly underresourced. 

Imagine if a key report showed that small businesses’ inability to stay afloat was a major obstacle to the success of the economy. Leaders would scramble to help those businesses, not blame them for their failures. A similar attitude would be a huge service to federal managers.

Elizabeth Newell covered management, human resources and contracting at Government Executive for three years.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.