The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 


The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one’s country. 


Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 


While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 


Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 


But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:


– From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  


– With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 


– Just recently, we’ve seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 


– We have also seen many years of pay freezes–with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!


– The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 


– Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 


– There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 


– Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of “conduct” issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.


– The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 


While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 


For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 


Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country–from the front lines to the back offices–we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Who Is More Religious?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Being Super Duper Kosher.”

Of course, I am sure many good people are trying to do the right thing and genuinely practice to be better servants of Hashem. However, this should never become an excuse to use religious practices to misguidedly “compete”–hurt or shame–and somehow “one up” their neighbor’s religiosity or status as fellow Jews. That would be to erroneously think that G-d can’t see all His children as good and deserving in their own ways, even though the creator can certainly see what is in the heart and in the doings of all of us.


Hope this resonates with many of you who are kosher but feel unfairly (mis)judged by all the latest variations these days. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Fight or Surrender!

This is why President Reagan was able to “tear down that wall” and win the Cold War. 


He was a true role model for leadership and what a President is. 


– Faith in G-d.


– A strength of convictions.


– The Integrity that touches hearts. 


– Courage to carry forward. 


– Pride in our nation.


– Judicious use of our might.


Go USA! 😉

Why We Fight?

Google Diversity.jpeg

Well first of all, let me say that I really liked this image on Google the other day. 


Beautiful to see the diversity and brotherhood (and including those with disabilities)!


I had a an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day about why people often don’t get along. 


She said something that I thought was really astute:


“If there were unlimited resources, then no one would have a reason to fight!”


Think about that a moment…


Everyone feels they don’t have enough or someone else has more then them or they are afraid they won’t get their share, and so what happens?


Like jealous little children, we fight for the pail and shovel in the sandbox. 


Only as adults, our sandbox is a lot bigger and it involves hate, bigotry, racism and deadly weapons including guns, knives, and even nukes!


So this isn’t the Garden of Eden where everyone prances around free and with plenty and nothing to worry about. 


Instead, everyone has to work “by the sweat of your brow,” and there are limits to what we have, and there is fighting over who has what.


Yes, truly “greed is the root of all evil.”


What we need to learn and internalize is that it’s more important how we act towards each other than what we have and that the real gold in life is the good we do and not the plenty we amass. 


Sure we each need enough to be able to survive and excel as human beings, but it’s fool’s gold that prevents us from seeing each other as the real brothers and sisters we all are. 


If only we had enough–in both perception and reality–then peace could reign among mankind. 😉


(Source Photo: Google)

The Greatest Failure of Leadership

Tiger.JPEG

So perhaps the most damaging trait of failed leadership is hubris.

When a leaders exhibits arrogance–bullies and degrades others, especially underlings–then that absolutely destroys the moral fiber of and the employee engagement in the organization.

No, it’s not the salary and benefits, or recognition, or position title, or even the grandness of the mission of the organization itself–although they are all important–but rather, the key ingredient to employee satisfaction is the common sense fundamental of how we treat our people.

People rising or elevated in the organization frequently forget the humble beginnings from whence they and their families likely began.

They see their honor and fat pay check and power–and they start to perhaps think of themselves as (close to) G-d Almighty, Him/Herself.

But it is not their position that makes them in the image of G-d, but how they care for and treat others.

If they shepherd their flocks meekly and with empathy and kindness to all then they emulate G-d, the creator and sustainer.

But when it goes to their heads and they become fat and haughty with themselves and are above everyone and care not for the basic dignity and respect of each individual in their steward then G-d sees and G-d hears the cry of the oppressed, and the mighty will surely fall and hard.

As it says in Isaiah 13:11:

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

Those who are blessed by G-d with position, money, and power–their challenge is to be gracious and giving with it. 

When they “laud it” over others and when they think that they are truly “all that”–rest assured that G-d does not let any tree grow or tower (of Babel) build into the Heavens themselves. 


Empathy, kindness, graciousness, and generosity–that is true leadership–and that is when employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity will bear the mark of the meek and the truly great person and leader. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting A Leadership Washing

Getting It WashedGetting It Washed 2

So I am reading this book called, “What Your Boss NEVER Told You.”


In terms of leadership, a key principle is stated very well here: 

“‘What’ flows down

And

‘How’ flows up.”

Meaning that as the leader, you set the goal, but you don’t tell people how to achieve it.

Micromanagement “stomp[s] out 

creativity, ownership, and commitment.”

To give your people the breathing room to innovate and solve problems and feel good about their work, here’s the ideal manager:

“Hands-off whenever possible, 

and 

hands-on whenever needed.”

And finally the 3 “H’s” of leadership:

1. Honor — doing the right thing (i.e. integrity)

2. Humility — “give away the credit,” but own the responsibility 100%!

3. Humor — “take their work seriously, but themselves lightly.”

Overall, good book to get a clean bill of leadership health. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Every Day Is Women’s Day

Women's Day

My mother taught me well, every day is women’s day!


Little did I know that March 8 is also designated International Women’s Day.


Today is the 10th, but I still saw a lady on the Metro carrying a balloon down the escalator celebrating this special time. 


Overall, even in the 21st century, it is appalling to say that women are not only still under-appreciated, but highly disrespected, and worse physically and emotionally abused around the world


Just this week, I read about another horrible rape in India of a 16-year old girl who was then set on fire and burned alive over 95% of her body–what crazies out there do this to women?


In Afghanistan, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for being a girl and wanting to go to school.


In other places in the world, terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram abduct and make sexual slaves of women


In Germany, migrants sexually assaulted literally hundreds of women on New Year’s Eve. 


And in Brooklyn, New York, 4 out of 5 suspects in a rape of an 18-year girl in the park go free without bail


This doesn’t even touch the more mundane matters of pay inequity and equal opportunity issues where women still only earn 84% of what men earn in the workplace.


As if any normal person should even need to be told this, I remember some progressive teacher in yeshiva telling us that women being disrespected or hurt could be your mother, sister, wife, or daughter, so DON’T do it or tolerate it!


While gender stereotypes still prevail about women being solely the homemaker and rearer of children, at least more men are now open to sharing or taking on these roles as well. 


I think for women, it’s still a grossly sick and inequitable world out there and it’s a true mark of shame on anyone who perpetuates these abuses. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)