Development should not end once an individual becomes an executive. Life-long learning is essential to ensure the executive remains relevant in today’s fast paced environment. Facing constant challenges, changing technologies and a fluid environment, executives must pursue ongoing professional executive development to succeed and grow. It is crucial that executives continue to strengthen and enhance their Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), broaden their perspectives, and strengthen their performance.
Federal agencies are required by law (Title 5, U.S. Code, Section 3396) to establish programs for the continuing development of senior executives.
SES members are required to prepare, implement, and regularly update an EDP as specified by 5 CFR 412.401. The Executive Development Plan (EDP) is a key tool in assisting executives in their continued development. EDPs should outline a senior executive's short-term and long-term developmental activities which will enhance the executive's performance. These activities should meet organizational needs for leadership, managerial improvement, and results. EDPs should be reviewed annually and revised as appropriate by an Executive Resources Board or similar body designated by the agency to oversee executive development.
OPM has developed a sample EDP template you or your agency can use. Department of Commerce has developed this IDP/EDP template for their executives.
Does your Agency have an EDP template that you find useful?
There may be barriers or perceived barriers to executive development. The 2008 Survey of Senior Executives indicated that many executives felt their training and developmental needs were not being met by their agency. Over one third of the executives surveyed indicated they had never taken advantage of the activities commonly used for developing executives (360 degree assessments, details, mentoring, coaching, residential programs, etc.). How can you overcome these barriers? The article Three Barriers to Owning your Leadership Development presents an interesting way of thinking about these barriers and some possible solutions. Do you have ideas or suggestions?
Solve Problems (How can I utilize this in my agency?)
There are many tools available for Executive Development. Below are some of the activities that can be utilized for further development.
360 Degree Feedback: 360 degree feedback is a widely used method and tool to assist in identifying strengths and developmental needs. OPM offers 360 degree survey services as do other organizations.
Formal Training: OPM offers formal training at its Management Development Centers and the Federal Executive Institute. There are many other formal training opportunities outside OPM. For more information, visit the Executive Development Community web page.
Mentoring and Coaching: Mentoring and Coaching are very effective tools for personal and leadership development. For more information see our Mentoring and Coaching Wiki.
Mobility Assignments: Current and aspiring executives have the option to participate in mobility assignments (5 U.S.C. 3131). These assignments consist of details, special/short-term assignments, transfers, projects, use of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act authority, sabbaticals, formal training and other creative ways to expose executives to challenges or otherwise expand their capacity to serve.
Sabbaticals: Another means for an SES member to gain a broader knowledge and experience is to participate in a sabbatical. Sabbaticals can be used for teaching; study (independent or structured); research; developmental work experience in the private sector, non-profit organizations, State, local, or foreign governments; and an activity or a project not covered above.
Other tools could include books, book summaries, webinars, and serving on Interagency Work Groups. What tools have you found useful in your professional development as an executive?
Stay Current (What are other organizations doing in this area?)
Federal Executive Boards offer many training and development programs of interest to the executive and aspiring executive. The Federal Executive Boards (FEBs) are a forum for communication and collaboration among Federal agencies outside Washington, DC. The National network of 28 FEBs, located in areas of significant Federal populations, serves as the cornerstone for strategic partnering in Government.
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The Department of Energy’s NNSA has implemented the Executive Career Enrichment Initiative. This program is designed to be a comprehensive leadership program for the NNSA leadership Corps. The program helps to define NNSA’s Executive Corps (consisting of members of the SES and Excepted Service), it enriches the careers of NNSA Executives, it develops future Executives, and it enhances NNSA’s mission execution and growth. For more details on this exciting program view the attached powerpoint slides. Tell us about your agency’s efforts toward Executive Development so we can highlight them here.
Find Opportunities (What training or other opportunities are available for Executives?)
OPM Executive Leadership and Development Programs: OPM offers a variety of training and development opportunities online and as resident programs. To learn more about these opportunities visit the Leadership and Development site.
Here are some other organizations that help people in their quest to becoming better leaders:
Center for Creative Leadership
Senior Executives Association
Harvard University: The John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan Executive Programs
Maxwell School of Syracuse University Executive Education Programs
Graduate School, USDA
Federal Executive Boards (FEBs)
Discover Helpful Tools and Resources (What other tools and resources are available to me?)
The Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) establish the basic leadership skills needed to succeed in the SES.
The Guide to Senior Executive Service Qualifications describes these leadership skills (competencies) and the behaviors associated with the ECQs.
The Fact Book: Explore statistics on Senior Executive Service awards, positions and appointments, and member profile.
If you see an error or have any suggestions for improvement, please email us at HRDLeadership@opm.gov