Eliminating Gaps in Agency Leadership – Part II: Introspection

In part I of this series, we talked about how to identify the skills required to fulfill your agency’s mission, determine to what extent these qualities exist among your leaders, and define the difference between the two in preparation for addressing leadership gaps. And most likely, as you reviewed the competencies that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) considers essential, you may have recognized that you, as a leader, or prospective leader, can improve in certain areas.  In this part, we will look at ways to identify and address your own strengths and weaknesses related to leadership.

Let’s begin with a vision. Imagine yourself in a Senior Executive Service-level (SES) position. Which skills and capabilities can you develop and strengthen to get closer to attaining that goal? Not sure? Here is one way to find out:

  1. From the Explore Hiring Paths page on USAJobs.gov, select Senior Executives and do a keyword search to find available positions.
Explore Hiring Paths
  1. Select an SES-level position that matches your career aspirations.
Select an SES-level position
  1. As you review the job posting, keep in mind that your intention is to:
    • Determine the requirements for this position
    • Assess where your capabilities stand today
    • Identify the skills and qualifications you will need to become eligible
    • Develop a plan of action

There are multiple sections to each job posting.

  1. Duties – The summary listed under Duties provides a high-level overview of the responsibility, impact, and desired background for this position. Find a job posting that describes the type of position you would like to aspire to.
Overview of the responsibility
  1. Mission – Think about what drives you. Find an agency that has a mission that aligns with your passion.
  1. Responsibilities – When you arrive at the responsibilities section, make a note of how close you could come to accomplishing these objectives with the skills and knowledge that you have today. Document your level of proficiency for each item.
  1. Requirements Qualifications – Review the qualifications and determine if you now, or could soon, qualify for the position. Document any gaps that exist.
  1. Consider your future. While this exercise may make you feel as if you have few qualifications toward the position you aspire to attain, it is essential for understanding what steps need to be taken – what skills and qualifications you will need to master – to achieve your personal and professional goals. Write down why reaching this level matters to you. Describe how you could personally make a difference if you were in this position of leadership. Don’t be shy; you will need these expressions to help motivate you when obstacles slow you down.
  1. Get help. Yes, you can do it on your own; of course, you can. But, the point is not only to pursue your goal but for those around you to be aware that you have done so and can encourage and support you. The Office of Personnel Management has a Candidate Development Program that creates a formal path for candidates to acquire the skills, training, and mentorship they need to reach their career aspirations. There are other, less formal ways that others can assist you in your quest. Have conversations about your hopes and dreams with people who can provide guidance and support.
  1. Make a plan and stick to it. Your best results will come from a plan that is:
    • Specific – Select specific skills or qualities to work on
    • Measurable – Determine how you will know when you achieve each goal
    • Achievable – Ensure that the goal will be challenging but attainable
    • Realistic – Assess the time and resources you can dedicate to your goal
    • Time-related – Predict how long it will take, with regular milestones, to reach your goal

How badly do you want to see yourself as an SES? If you are going to embrace change, develop new skills, acquire qualifications, you will need to be committed to your leadership goal. Management Concepts offers career coaching and leadership training opportunities that help you attain the SES-level position you envisioned. We know that pursuing a career in the Federal Government ensures that your time is spent making a difference, advancing our position in the world, and improving our quality of life, one day at a time – and we applaud you for it.

Now that you’ve spent some time reviewing the requirements for an SES-level role, you have a better idea of what you know and what areas you need to work on. This insight will serve you well as we move on to our third installment of this five-part series, which focuses on addressing leadership gaps within your organization.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources



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