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Blogs / ICMA | blog / Implementing the Ideals of Public Service, Part 3

Implementing the Ideals of Public Service, Part 3

This is the final of three posts in which I highlight how local governments are incorporating and embracing the principles that Janet V. Denhardt and Robert B. Denhardt outline in their book The New Public Service.

The first post of this series covered the ideals serve citizens, not customers and seek the public interest.  The second post outlined the ideals value citizenship over entrepreneurship; think strategically, act democratically; and recognize that accountability isn’t simple.

Here are the final two ideals from the book:


1.) Serve Rather than Steer: It is increasingly important for public servants to use shared interests rather than attempting to control or steer society in new directions.

  • One of the best resources on the Knowledge Network to accomplish this ideal is the Citizen Engagement topic.  This topic includes great information and resources on how to collaborate and share leadership with members for your community.

2.) Value People, Not Just Productivity: Public organizations and the networks in which they participate are more likely to be successful in the long run if they are operated through processes of collaboration and shared leadership based on respect for all people.

  • This document outlines the need for local government leaders to be both transactional and transformational leaders. Today, leaders are advised not to enforce their ideals on their community, but rather to develop shared leadership with the community.

Throughout my educational and professional experiences I will make a conscious effort to apply all these ideals.  As one can see from the resources in all three posts, many local government leaders are already making the effort.

What ideals do you think are missing from Denhardt & Denhardt’s book? Please post your comments below.

Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Intern