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

Your Subordinates Know More About You Than You Know


I know you only by the way you treat me, nothing else.

I'm not listening to most of what you say.

You asked me to find the core values brochure. It's in the closet, buried under pens and colored folders and paper clips.

Here's how I know what you care about (yes you, a representative of leadership): How. You. Act.

You don't know what I mean? You think you never see me?

I know you by:

  • The things other people say about you. Your reputation.
  • The way you choose to greet people in the hallway.
  • The way you talk about other people. 
  • The way you listen—or don't.
  • What you do in response to problems.
  • The way you show empathy to those in pain.
  • Your attitude to new ideas that are not yours.
  • The way you enforce the rules.
  • Whether you study a matter carefully, or are impulsive and just act out.
  • Who you give the microphone to, and where you shine your spotlight.

Yes, I know you. Every single day, I watch your values unfold.

And I am learning.

Copyright 2016 Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. The opinions expressed are her own, and the content of this post is not intended to represent any federal agency or the government as a whole.

Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D., is a federal communicator with 20 years' experience in the private sector, academia and government. Best known for her work on branding, Dr. Blumenthal now focuses on the discipline of management, particularly the intersections between identity, culture and communication. She has lectured at a variety of schools including The George Washington University and the University of Maryland University College. In her spare time she is an independent community activist, focused primarily on raising awareness about child sexual abuse and domestic violence. All opinions are her own.

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