Federal News Radio asked each Causey Award Winner to answer 10 questions about him or herself so that we could learn a little bit more about them. Here’s what Phil Lenowitz had to say:
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
In the book “First Break all the Rules,” I learned, “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try and draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” I think it’s an important way for leaders and managers to look at the people who work in their organizations. It’s a more thoughtful way of saying “Never try to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and you annoy the pig.”
What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received?
“Don’t take a job with the government.” I did it anyway and I have always been proud to be a fed.
Who has been your biggest role model, and why?
Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali. Both men were able to back up their brash words with actions. They made outrageous statements and then proved them. I admire that showmanship of staking a claim and then delivering on it.
If I could have one super power it would be …
Moving “faster than a speeding bullet”. I could get to all my meetings on time and get home in a flash.
In my opinion …
In our decision-making we need to guard against relying too much on data and not enough on imagination. “Show me the data!” can be helpful, but data shouldn’t be the determinative factor in making decisions. Decision-making analysis needs both head and heart.
If you didn’t work for the federal government, what would be your dream job?
I would be a full-time storyteller. While the push for data-driven decision making will continue, I think stories teach us and inspire creativity; that is something data just can’t do.
If resources were not an issue, I would motivate my staff with …
Personal recognition (handwritten notes, take them out to lunch, etc.). Money is nice, but once it’s spent it’s gone. Personal notes, personal remembrances (birthdays, length of service) tend to stay with people. And,of course, I would tell stories about how my staff’s work makes the agency mission possible. This understanding drives people to do their best work and remain positive during the war on federal employees.
The greatest federal HR challenge is …
To become an integral part of the agency mission and not a service provider. When agency managers and leaders view the huuman resources people as a part of their business, not the service provider (e.g. Jiffy Lube), the real value becomes apparent. Having the broad perspective that HR professionals bring is a huge asset at the strategic table.
What is the last book you read?
“The Honest Truth about Dishonesty” by Dan Ariely.
I’d rather be …
6′ 3″, 195 lbs. and riding my bicycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Federal News Radio awarded five individuals with a 2013 Causey Award. Read more about each of the recipients.