FMA’s Manager of the Year Leads by Example
Last month, the Federal Managers Association (FMA) honored Sue Thatch as its Manager of the Year for 2015, in recognition of her efforts to promote excellence in public service. Sue has been lauded for originating the idea that became the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, expected to help more than 45,000 disabled veterans over the next five years.
This will not only enhance recruitment for thousands of America’s brave men and women seeking to continue their service, but also gives their managers a useful tool to help run the workplace and keep the focus on successful mission achievement.
Sue’s work on a daily basis at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, is a model that all managers can follow for a more productive, efficient, and effective place of work. Her record over her more than 26 years of public service illustrates many of the concepts and best practices seen in best-selling books on leadership.
It is notable, for example, that in Sue’s nomination for FMA Manager of the Year, the first quality singled out is her ability to listen. “You believe that Sue hears you when you speak to her.” This is a lesson from which we all can learn.
Sue illustrates another positive trait of leading by example. She carries herself with professionalism, takes immediate action on issues as they arise, and manages with a policy of “my door is always open.” She makes herself available to all her employees, is patient and non-judgmental, and consistent when listening to all points of view. She is firm but fair, and responsive to their needs. As a direct result, her employees are energized and inspired to contribute with a mutual commitment to accomplish the job.
Communication is imperative. Sue leads with “a calm wisdom,” but there are many different styles of communication, and what works in one situation may not in another. The common denominator is to find tools to develop and empower employees. A big part of that is education. Sue is a mentor to all and provides encouraging leadership and advocates training and qualification requirements that enhance her employees’ aptitude.
And while it’s vital to work hard, providing services to the American people at the best value for taxpayer dollars, Sue reminds us that “you need to smile and laugh any time you can during the day.” She is an illustration of work/life balance, active in FMA activities such as her chapter’s annual golf tournament and a 5K Fun Run/Walk to celebrate Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW), as well as seeking personal enrichment and giving to the local community.
Her story – and that of the overwhelming majority of managers across the federal government – doesn’t make the news as often as perceived scandals. The 2016 PSRW, May 1-7, is approaching, and it’s a wonderful time to tell these positive stories. An even better idea is to shine a spotlight on Sue and the 99% of federal managers across the government who do outstanding work every day.
Sue’s career is a blueprint that can be admired and aspired to. She is humble and would likely say she’s just doing her job. And that is something all managers can emulate, too.
Posted in Hear it from FMA