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The Federal Coach

A 'cheerleader, coach and referee' at Treasury

Daniel Tangherlini
Daniel Tangherlini is the Department of Treasury's assistant secretary for management. Tangherlini previously served as deputy mayor for the District of Columbia and director of the city's Department of Transportation where he led the effort to create the Circulator bus, an innovative public-private transportation partnership.

Q: How do you balance your large management portfolio at Treasury?

A: The key to being successful in any management position is realizing that it's not you who has to be successful; it's really the organization that has to be. I think of myself more as a cheerleader, coach and referee. My job is to try to find the right team, invest in that team and give them support so that they can be successful.

Q: What are some of things you do as your team's cheerleader?

A: The key is making sure you have a continual back-and-forth dialogue so people have the opportunity to bring ideas forward. It's also important that people feel they have some ability to set the direction and change the direction. My job is to try to provide that forum, help people select their priorities and then really push and hold them accountable.

Q: What's your top priority?

A: Secretary Timothy Geithner challenged us to help him build institutional capacity--find good people to work here, support them with the best services and technology, and provide the best training so the department can be in a position to both anticipate and respond to any change in the economy.

Q: How did you overcome the risk-averse culture while working in the D.C. government?

A: The Circulator bus is an example of that. I worked with folks who had put a lot of effort into it and helped them find a way to capitalize on a window of opportunity. We thought creatively about everything from tracking down the buses to finding the resources. I overcame the risk aversion by getting people excited about the outcome and then seeing the dream realized.

Q: What advice would you give to young people considering public service?

A: There is no more rewarding work than public service. This is a great country and people should all find some way, at some point in their life, to make a contribution to it. It's incredibly gratifying work. It's important work.

Q: Your brother is a firefighter, what have you learned from him about leadership?

A: One of the things I really admire about the way people like my brother approach their work is they do it with courage; they're not shy. They go to the problem rather than awaiting the problem, and frankly, if we were all to adopt a little bit more of that--I'm not saying that people literally have to run into burning buildings--but if we adopted a little more of that courage, be a little less shy, if we were a little more willing to take on some risks, I think that our problems would be solved much more easily and quickly.

Editor's note: Do you know an inspiring public sector leader? Be in touch and tell us who Tom should interview next and what questions he should ask.

By Tom Fox

 |  April 7, 2010; 5:27 AM ET |  Category:  View from the Top Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Can you collaborate with a million people? | Next: Jumping from private sector to public service

Comments

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Apparently Dan has not been keeping up with current events.

Posted by: millionea7 | April 8, 2010 11:32 AM

I may be a bitter man, but I have to say that Dan has done a good job. Deputy mayor, DC transportation, and now US Treasury. He can do it all. I guess good management is universal.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 8, 2010 4:20 AM

"Secretary Timothy Geithner challenged us to help him build institutional capacity--find good people to work here, support them with the best services and technology, and provide the best training so the department can be in a position to both anticipate and respond to any change in the economy."
---------------------------------------
Excellent! But how exactly does your team "respond" to a change in the economy? It doesn't sound as though your team is proactive (or did I miss something?).

What exactly does a Head Cheerleader do to earn his pay?

I get an unfortunate image of the Pointy Haired Boss in "Dilbert".

Posted by: shadowmagician | April 7, 2010 7:33 PM

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