Supervisory Leadership Development

 Supervisors and managers are the nexus between Government policy and action and the link between management and employees.  For this reason, the supervisor’s proficiency in both technical and leadership skills is important for success.  Effective supervisors increase employee motivation, communicate expectations, and ultimately increase organizational performance.   Investing in supervisory learning and development will save money in the future and improve work quality, professional development and job satisfaction throughout all levels of the Federal workforce.     

This page also includes existing online and classroom training materials and resources shared by Federal Agencies.  Agencies are encouraged to share course information that ties to any of the competency areas within the Supervisory Training Framework.


According to 5 U.S.C. 7103(a)(10), “supervisor” is defined as, "…an individual employed by an agency having authority in the interest of the agency to hire, direct, assign, promote, reward, transfer, furlough, layoff, recall, suspend, discipline, or remove employees, to adjust their grievances, or to effectively recommend such action, if the exercise of the authority is not merely routine or clerical in nature but requires the consistent exercise of independent judgment..."

Mandatory Training Requirements

All agencies are required to provide training within one year of an employee’s initial appointment to a supervisory position, as well as refresher training to all supervisors and managers at least every three years (5 CFR 412.202).  The training must address, at a minimum, options and strategies to improve employee performance.  These minimum training requirements, while helpful, do not address the full spectrum of skills and competencies a supervisor needs to be effective.

The revised 5 CFR 412.202 discusses systematic training and development of supervisors, managers, and executives, and requires new supervisors to receive:

The Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-411) directs agencies to provide specific training to develop supervisors as part of a comprehensive succession management strategy.  The Act requires agencies to provide training to supervisors and managers on actions, options and strategies to:

Federal Government Tools and Resources

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)






The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

From #172 to #1: The US Patent & Trademark Office’s leap to the top of the Best Places to Work ranks is a direct representation of all the hard work, visionary leadership, and strategic planning that made the agency what it is today. There are many ‘keys to success’ that can be gleaned from the agency’s journey to #1, including providing developmental opportunities for leaders at all levels, collaborating across organizational boundaries, and engaging the virtual workforce, leadership commitment, among others.

Jennifer Tokar and John Tindal from the USPTO tell the story of how the agency made the climb from a Best Places to Work ranking of 172nd place to 1st place in just 6 years! They highlight how the USPTO overcame distinct challenges by making leadership development a priority, and discuss how the agency truly exemplified the values of engagement, excellence, and collaboration.

USPTO’s presentation ‘Leadership Development Best Practices from a #1 Place to Work’

Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)

  • A Call to Action: Improving First-Level Supervision of Federal Employees:  In this report by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), identifies and discusses specific needs for improvement in the selection, development, guidance, and management of Federal first-level supervisors.  Additionally, MSPB offers recommendations to address each area identified for improvement. Some of those recommendations are new; others have appeared in previous MSPB reports or been made previously by other organizations. Not all of our recommendations will work for all agencies.

Agency Course Materials

The Smithsonian Institute
Course:  Fundamentals for Supervisors

  • Topics:  Making the Transition to Management, Equal Employment Opportunity, Workforce Planning & Management, Leave and Work Schedule Policies and Procedures, Managing Conduct Issues and Adverse Actions, Labor and Employee Relations Policies and Practices, Performance Management, Development Conversations, Types of Development Support, and Creating a Safe Work Environment.
  • Materials:  PowerPoint Slides, Facilitator Materials and Participant Materials
  • Instructional Method/ Duration:  Instructor-led Training, 6 Days

Download here.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Course:  Leadership in Context

  • Topics: Self- Awareness and Communication Skills: The Foundations of Success; Managing for Results; Managing Human Resources: The Legal Foundations; and Managing Change and Building Partnerships and Coalitions.
  • Materials:  PowerPoint Slides, Facilitator Guide, Participant Materials and Course Evaluation
  • Instructional Method/ Duration:  Instructor-led Training, 12 Days

Download here. 

Course:  Dimensions of Leadership

  • Topics: Self as Leader (Leading People), Skills of a Manager, Getting Things Done Through Others (Results Driven), Leading from the Middle (Building Partnerships and Coalitions), and Getting Results and Pulling it All Together (Leading Change and Results Driven)
  • Materials:  PowerPoint Slides, Facilitator Guide, Participant Materials and Course Evaluation
  • Instructional Method/ Duration:  Instructor-led Training, 12 Days

Download here.

Course:  Introduction to Supervisor 101


  • Topics:  Merit System Principles and Prohibited Personnel Practices, Principles of NO FEAR and EEO, Hiring, Introduction to the Performance Management Appraisal Program, Performance Management, Telework, Employee Assistance Program, Leave Administration, Labor Relations, and Employee Relations.
  • Materials:  Participant Guide, Videos of Instructor-led Sessions
  • Instructional Method/ Duration:  Instructor-led Training, 3 Days

Download here.

Course:  Essential Supervision Skills

  • Topics:  Communication Skills, Promoting Employee Performance, Federal Supervisor’s HRM Role and Ethics, EEO Basics, and Managing Conflict
  • Materials:  PowerPoint Slides, Facilitator Guide, and Participant Materials
  • Instructional Method/ Duration:  Instructor-led Training, 9 Days

Download here.

Helpful Tips

Reach beyond the requirements in 5 CFR 412.202 to address key leadership competencies and human resources technical knowledge to become more successful.  Because training needs may vary across Government, agencies are encouraged to conduct a training needs assessment to design and develop a supervisory training program that meets agency-specific needs.