Mulvaney shares leadership lessons with CXO Fellows

Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, speaks to the CXO Fellows on July 11, 2017.

Fifty fellows heard from top government leadership in a session with Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as part of the 2016-2017 CXO Fellows Program. In the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Director Mulvaney shared his thoughts on how to enable good government and his personal experience transitioning from leading on the Hill to the current administration. Here are three tips the Director shared with this year’s cohort of fellows.

1. Leave your politics at the door

Working in government means working with people from all different political perspectives.  We can all agree that want to deliver good government for the American people. The Director shared he enjoys working with OMB where people work hard to create good government regardless of political affiliation. He encouraged CXO Fellows to find common ground with their teams to get things done sufficiently. When he was on the Hill, Director Mulvaney mentioned that both he and a Democrat worked together on a bill on the use of green energy in buildings.  Even though they had different reasons for passing it, they were able to find common ground.

2. Be good stewards of taxpayer dollars

Even though all the fellows play a role in “mission support” as part of the IT, acquisition, or finance function, it is still important to come to work focused on the mission of your agency. If there is a process that can be done more efficiently, find a way to do it. That is also the vision behind the government-wide reform effort. The reform effort is not only about restructuring the workforce. It is to help ensure the government is providing better services to the American citizens. It’s also important to leverage expectations. Implementation might not always be 100% complete. A complete solution up front may not be realistic due to the size and complexity of Government operations. As a leader, it is important not to get hung up on creating a perfect solution as opposed to an 80% solution that far exceeds prior operations and processes with substantially less effort and cost. The bottom line is, work hard and do what you can for the mission and for the American people.

3. Ask questions no matter your role to ensure clear understanding of expectations.

The Director shared about taking on the role as director of OMB. He highlighted that he did not have a relationship with his potential employer prior. In the interview, he asked what they were looking for in a Director. He stressed that when taking on new roles, it is important for both parties to have an understanding of expectations and to avoid positions that may be the wrong fit. Once in the role, he asked the President if dissent was welcome, which it is. He finds this important to help get things accomplished. Asking questions helps you know expectations and can create clarity when working on a team. Even as a leader you need to ask questions and be prepared to receive questions.