Eliminating Gaps in Agency Leadership – Part III: Within Your Organization

Although leaders may be quite effective in their current roles, they may not be well equipped to handle changes that occur due to new requirements. As each Administration introduces initiatives, there is a need to identify and address gaps between current skills and knowledge and future leadership requirements. In the first part of this series on leadership gaps, we discussed the process of identifying and assessing leadership gaps. In the second part, we dove into addressing your own leadership gaps. Now, in part three, we will explore ways to close leadership gaps within your organization.

It is vital to the mission of any Federal Agency to maintain a consistent voice and purpose. The reception of proposals, reports, and initiatives is closely tied to the impression given by our leaders. Therefore, we must strive to enhance the leadership qualities of our people, prepare our potential leaders, and scrutinize recruits with leadership potential in mind. Let’s explore ways to close leadership gaps: identifying potential leaders, providing group training, establishing individual leadership development plans, promoting agility through role swapping, encouraging mentorship and coaching, and closely monitoring progress.

Identify potential leaders

What does it take to lead others effectively in the Federal Government? The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has defined the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) Leadership Model as the foundation of leadership assessments. According to OPM, an effective leader communicates effectively, has integrity, continually seeks knowledge, desires serving the public, leads change, leads people, is driven by results, displays business acumen, and builds coalitions.

Once a potential leader has been identified, OPM recommends administering the Leadership Potential Assessment (LPA) which measures potential leadership effectiveness and provides individuals with an understanding of how their behaviors and preferences may impact their ability to lead effectively.

Provide group training

In some cases, a leadership gap may be widespread, such as with the introduction of a new requirement or a shift in focus. In these cases, it may be most beneficial to train all affected leaders at once in a group setting.

Group training is very useful for team building and often less expensive than the cumulative costs of individual training courses. Group settings also facilitate opportunities for participants to ask and answer questions that provide everyone in the group with the same learning experience and understanding.

Establish individual leadership development plans

Candidates for the Senior Executive Service (SES) may participate in the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP), a succession management tool that prepares aspiring senior executive leaders. This high-level development program lasts at least 12 months and includes an Individual Development Plan (IDP), at least 80 hours of formal training addressing the ECQ competencies, at least four months of outside development assignments, and an SES mentor.

While these requirements may seem extensive, they are designed to ensure that the individual has all the knowledge and support they need to lead at an executive level. Individuals who are not yet eligible for executive leadership would also benefit from a combination of training, job shadowing, coaching, and mentorship, which is often referred to as a leadership development plan.

Promote agility through role swapping

During a recent panel discussion at the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), “Identifying and Addressing Skill Gaps: Innovative Federal Practices,” senior Federal workforce development leaders agreed that making pathways for high-performing individuals to try out a different role for several months provided multiple benefits. It ensured that the individuals who were swapping jobs, and the people who dealt with them directly, demonstrated their ability to adapt to new circumstances while maintaining productivity. Also, the people who swapped roles considered this opportunity to be a unique privilege, enhancing engagement, commitment, and retention.

Encourage mentorship and coaching

Take advantage of the experience and wisdom of proven leaders with mentorship. For mentorship to be successful, it is important to agree on a specific timeframe and objectives. OPM describes many different ways that coaching and mentoring can work in addition to detailed recommendations in Best Practices: Mentoring.

While learning about a subject is helpful, hands-on training is best. And, when an expert helps to guide the way – through job shadowing, mentoring, or coaching – the potential for growth is limitless.

Closely monitor progress

Maintain a sharp focus on how well the strategies you have put in place are working. Make note of the circumstances – generations of those involved, what type of training was employed, what was the sequence of events that preceded and followed an individual’s leadership development. Reassess your leaders periodically to uncover new potential for growth. There’s always room for improvement.

Did you know that Management Concepts offers a variety of ways to close leadership gaps? In addition to individual courses in conveniently-located traditional or virtual classrooms, we are available to design and deliver custom curriculum that meets your unique objectives. Come to our training facilities individually or as a group or, if you prefer, we can come to you. If you find that you need a comprehensive assessment and plan, our expert consultants can design a leadership development solution that fits your needs.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources



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