Keep satellites in orbit! Keep the lead out of the drinking water! Keep your cool, even though you have no idea, as a political appointee, whether you will have a job next year. This is the dilemma appointees face in an election year.

A political appointee’s job is always busy and never easy, especially in the lead up to a presidential election. An election may mean continued employment (if the incumbent wins) or a sudden date with the door (if the challenger prevails). Either way, uncertainty can create stress and campaign battles only serve to increase such anxiety.

Below is some advice, sourced from former officials, for political appointees about maintaining sanity and staff morale during the months ahead.

1. Deal fairly and honestly with the agency transition requirements.

Political appointees must model professionalism and good faith as they support efforts by career officials to prepare for a possible transition as required by law. Agencies must meet a series of transition requirements including preparing briefings and written materials. This will help ensure a smooth transition of power if there is a change of administration.

2. Collaborate with top leadership to plan for a potential second term.

At the same time, an incumbent administration should be preparing for a second term if victorious. Political appointees should fulfill any requests to support transition planning while continuing to do their jobs.

3. Prepare succession plans.

The start of a new presidential term triggers high turnover in political roles, even if an incumbent wins. Political leaders should direct agencies to prepare lines of succession and identify potential acting officials to be ready for any departures.

4. Identify high-performers and allow opportunities for advancement.

If the incumbent wins, election year turnover can create openings for top performers to advance within the political ranks. Top appointees should identify and offer opportunities for strong performers to stay during and after the transition period.

5. Communicate clearly with colleagues.

Given the external turmoil and election uncertainty, clear internal communication about continued expectations is essential for maintaining trust among employees.

6. Share success stories internally and externally.

Members of the civil service faces many challenges. Sharing stories of success can boost staff morale despite outside pressures.

7. Create or join a supportive community.

Participation in communities with those who have the same professional or personal identities can be an opportunity to share struggles and successes, and provide support across silos or lines of reporting. Affinity groups or professional convenings, such as those facilitated by the Partnership for Public Service, are great examples of these.

8. Take this opportunity to review and publicize leave and self-care benefits.

Appointees should create a culture that encourages their entire organization to make use of their vacation, sick leave and other benefits.

9. Show your people some love.

Small gestures can mean a lot. Political appointees should share invitations to White House gatherings when available such as the upcoming White House Easter Egg Roll or other administration events. This is also a great time to plan retreats for staff to bond, share strategies and refocus on their mission.

10. Show yourself some love.

Take a break from the news. Take a walk. Take a deep breath. The next few months may be difficult and stressful, so do what you need to get through it and support those around you.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month both in the U.S. and worldwide, it’s a good time to examine the contributions women have made in the federal government. The Biden administration has seen a number of historic firsts for women: In 2021, Kamala Harris became the country’s first woman vice president, Janet Yellen became the first woman secretary of the Treasury and Avril Haines became the first woman director of National Intelligence.

Despite these wins, there’s still a long way to go. There are still important leadership positions that have never been held by a woman. For example, not only has no woman ever been president or chief justice of the Supreme Court, but two Cabinet agencies have never had a woman secretary: the departments of the Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The following are 10 important positions in the federal government that have never been filled by a woman.

1. President – None of the 45 individuals who served as president have been women. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to be nominated by a major political party in 2016.

2. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Twenty-one men and no women have filled the most senior position in the U.S. armed forces since its creation in 1949.

3. Chief Justice of Supreme Court – Only six justices in the more than 230-year history of the Supreme Court have been women, and none have been appointed chief justice.

4. Chief of Staff to the President – Since President Harry Truman appointed the first chief of staff in 1946—called the assistant to the president at the time—none of the 31 people to hold this position have been women.

5. Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – The first leader of the FBI was appointed in 1908, and none of the 20 directors (including those in an acting capacity) have been women.

6. Director of the National Security Agency – Women have never held the highest-ranking position in the NSA since the intelligence agency was founded in 1952.

7. Secretary of Defense – The Department of Defense has never been led by a woman since its inception in 1947.

8. Secretary of Veterans Affairs – The Department of Veterans Affairs was formed in 1989, and all 11 of the Senate-confirmed officials who led the agency have been men.

9. Senate Majority Leader – No Senate majority leader has been female since that role was created in the 1920s.In fact, no Senate minority leader has been a woman during that period either.

10. NASA Administrator – None of the 14 people who have been confirmed to lead the agency since its founding in 1958.

This list is not exhaustive. Other important positions, such as the ambassadorships to China, Israel, and Russia have not been held by a woman. Other positions have only had a woman official recently.

As the country honors women’s history, those who have served as leaders of our democracy deserve recognition and appreciation. At the same time, their absence from key positions in government, and thus from critical conversations in domestic and foreign policy, is worth highlighting. As President Joe Biden proclaimed, “Throughout history, the vision and achievements of powerful women have strengthened our Nation and opened the doors of opportunity wider for all of us.”

Extensive research indicates diverse and inclusive teams produce better outcomes, and that well-qualified women are ready to lead. While we have made progress in the last 100 years, more work needs to be done to ensure the top levels of our government resemble the country they serves.