Magazine article Government Finance Review

Becoming a Consummate Public Servant

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Becoming a Consummate Public Servant

Article excerpt

Becoming a Consummate Public Servant The Professional Edge: Competencies in Public Service Published by M.E. Sharpe (800) 541-6563 www.mesharpe.com 200-1; 168 pages; $22.95

The new context and character of public service-defined by shifting values, entrepreneurship, information technology, and multisector careers-require enhanced technical, ethical, and leadership competencies. This is the conclusion of authors James Bowman, Jonathan West, Evan Berman, and Montgomery Van Wart in their new book entitled The Professional Edge: Competencies in Public Service. While most people continue to think of public service solely in terms of government work, it now involves work with nonprofit organizations and private firms. As such, the three key competencies must be manifest in each sector of the economy.

The authors break down public service competencies into three categories: the technical professional (developing expertise), the ethical professional (cultivating morals), and the consummate professional (creating leadership). Those individuals who are already engaged in public service careers, as well as those seeking such a career, cannot hope to succeed with just one or two of these key competencies; they must possess all three to be fully prepared to handle the challenges and decisions they will face in their careers. The authors contend that citizens are best served by public servants who have these skills in rich abundance. However, the mere possession of the necessary skill sets does not fully capture the essence of public service, which must also include an abiding commitment to making a difference in the lives of citizens, upholding democratic values, and demonstrating compassion in the service to others.

The authors explain that while many public managers do a good job of promoting key competencies, they often neglect to fully develop them in themselves and their employees. True professionals are responsible to themselves, their agencies, and their employees. Consequently, both current and prospective public servants must do all they can to prepare for the challenges of the new public service. The stated goal of this book is to encourage reflection on the nature of public service professionalism as the new century unfolds. According to the authors, there is no time like the present to aspire to higher standards; if those who read the book gain a renewed desire to hone their professional edge, then their objectives will have been satisfied. …

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