Want to Lead? 18 Leadership Training Options for Feds

The United States Office of Personnel Management has been working for awhile now to better enhance leadership development to keep qualified employees moving into management positions. This has included developing a training framework for future leaders, as well as defining performance metrics for the SES. Still, agencies have been given a fair amount of leeway when it comes to how they train and what they require from interested future leaders. Some agencies have created their own internal training programs for those in the leadership pipeline, and outside training programs also abound. If you’re interested in becoming a leader in your agency, here are a few of your training options (please note that this list is not all inclusive, but is rather intended to give you a sense of what is available):

Internal (some of the internal programs accept only agency-specific personnel, while others will train any fed or non-fed):

  • Center for Leadership Development: Created by OPM with an aim of developing the potential and skills of future and current leaders, the program offers customized programs as well as a certification in Leadership Education and Development. Courses are offered online and at a handful of residential centers across the country.
  • DOD: The DOD has a two-year senior leadership program that focuses on the entire department rather than individual subsets, to give attendees a holistic view of the department. Training includes residence education at a DOD academy, seminars, and a final experiential activity. DOD also offers executive leadership and emerging leader programs. Depending on your agency within DOD, there are additional entry, mid-level, and executive programs.
  • DOJ: High-potential employees can participate in LEAP, the Department’s training program for future high-level managers. The program includes individualized coaching and development plans, assignments, mentoring, shadowing, and residential coursework. The various agencies within DOJ offer their own leadership development programs, as well.
  • USDA/NRCS: For anyone employed by the agency in the GS 1-15 levels, the Emerging Leaders Development Program is aimed at preparing current supervisors for taking on larger leadership roles.
  • USDA/USFS: Agency employees can participate in GS-level specific programs geared toward first-year managers, aspiring leaders, new leaders, middle leaders, and senior leaders. All of the program levels involve coursework, distance learning, and some mentoring or self-development.
  • ED: Agency employees who wish to become managers can participate in a year-long Pathways to Leadership program that includes assessments, coursework, mentoring, and team projects. ED also offers a transition program for new supervisors to help them develop the skills needed to succeed in their new roles.
  • HHS: Agency employees can participate in a variety of skill-specific leadership development programs, such as those focusing on teamwork, feedback, problem solving, resolving conflict, and time management.
  • HUD: Agency employees can complete a one-year emerging leaders program that uses distance learning, assignments, shadowing, and team projects to train those hoping to transition into leadership positions.
  • IRS: Linked with its succession-planning efforts, the IRS has a number of leadership development programs for aspiring front-line managers, senior managers, executive managers, and SES candidates.
  • NSA: Since a pilot program in 2011, the NSA has allowed potential leaders to self identify and then be evaluated by a group of supervisors. Those determined to have leadership potential are offered training, additional assessments, mentoring, and assignments.
  • NRC: The NRC has an 18-month program including classroom activities, rotational assignments, and one-on-one learning to ultimately prepare leaders to enter the SES. Other offerings include a Leadership Potential Program for those interested in supervisory duties, and a two-year program to develop the leadership skills of those already in management positions.
  • EPA: The EPA offers both an intern program for those within and outside federal employment to develop leadership potential. For agency employees, there are a variety of programs, including brief workshops for those applying for supervisory roles and a one-year program required for new managers and supervisors.
  • OMB: A self-paced program for those in GS 12-15 is aimed at cultivating leadership skills within a structured career development framework created for each participant.
  • SSA: Three different 18-month programs are aimed at various levels within the agency including two for employees who show potential to become leaders, and one for those seeking to enter SES.
  • NASA: The various agency programs are focused on everything from developing foundational leadership skills to effective communication and human resource solutions for new and current leaders.

Outside Government:

  • The George Washington University’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership offers residential and non-residential courses throughout the year that are geared toward specific GS levels. Some of their offerings include courses specifically for emerging leaders, a program on communicating at the executive level, and a program for senior leaders.
  • Partnership for Public Service offers a number of leadership programs for those at all levels of the management spectrum. For example, the group offers a program specifically for presidential appointees taught by current and former senior government leaders.
  • Graduate School USA is a not-for-profit private company offering GS-level specific leadership training program that run from two months to one year. Programs range from those for aspiring leaders, to new leaders, through SES development.

Have you taken any agency-sponsored or external leadership courses? What did you like/dislike?

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Don Murphy

It seems that if you do not live in the radius of Washington DC, you really don’t have a good chance of getting these classes that you might be interested in.