Leadership lessons for new political appointees

01/27/2017 10:50 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2018

In the weeks and months ahead, hundreds of political appointees will be chosen for important leadership jobs in the new administration, and if confirmed by the Senate, will face a wide array of political, policy and management challenges.

During a panel discussion this fall at my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, two seasoned political appointees -- Scott Gould, the former deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration, and Sean O'Keefe, who was administrator of NASA in the George W. Bush administration -- offered insights into navigating the world of government leadership. Both are members of the Partnership's board of directors.

While the two experienced bumps and bruises from their time in government and are realists, they have remained idealistic about the importance and responsibilities of public service. They also cautioned that these jobs cannot be about ego or oneself.

"A lot of people who get political appointments mistakenly believe that the job is a reward - a means to advance their careers. No. This is about the mission - it's a chance to serve," Gould said.

This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.