The Foreign Service Journal, December 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | DECEMBER 2023 21 These junior officers ignore the host country national staff, who have the knowledge and institutional memory of the mission; and in doing so, they miss out on one of the great learning opportunities offered to them. They only want to engage with higher-ups, to be more visible, and to garner favor they hope will translate into better assignments and faster promotions. They take on additional tasks only after assessing whether the task is promotion-worthy and will say yes only if it is something they can write about in their promotion package. By operating in this way, these junior officers are doing a disservice to themselves in the long run. Take note, new officers! From the moment you say hello, your corridor reputation starts being developed. If you treat locally employed staff poorly, brown-nose to higher-ups, cherry-pick only the tasks that will get you promoted—what do you think people are going to say about you? When a potential supervisor at a desired post does an informal background check on you, asking around, beyond the references you provided, what are those people going to say about you? Will what they say help your chances of getting that job? This is what you need to think about every time you have the opportunity to interact with anyone and every time you are asked to do something. I urge you to show some humility. In this day and age, humility is the gold standard for a leader. Start admitting what you don’t know. Welcome others who know more to join in the brainstorming session. Do not be afraid to admit mistakes and course-correct. Take your ego out of the workplace and refocus on the needs and objectives of your team and agency. Why did you join the Foreign Service in the first place? Remember your “why” and cultivate and display humility along the journey toward achieving your purpose in the Foreign Service. n Speaking Out is the Journal’s opinion forum, a place for lively discussion of issues affecting the U.S. Foreign Service and American diplomacy. The views expressed are those of the author; their publication here does not imply endorsement by the American Foreign Service Association. Responses are welcome; send them to