August 7, 2008
IC Directors
Kerry Brink, Assistant to the Deputy Director, NIH
IC Directors’ Meeting Highlights – June 12, 2008

Dr. Zerhouni recognized Dr. Francis Collins who will step down as Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) as of August 1, 2008, to pursue other opportunities outside of Federal service. Dr. Zerhouni commended Dr. Collins as an outstanding leader who has made enormous contributions to NHGRI and the scientific community, and wished him the best in all his future endeavors.

Dr. Zerhouni congratulated the peer review team; stating that the feedback has been very positive on the intent of the reform.

Discussion Item

I. Leadership Development Update, Ms. Chris Major, Director, Human Capital Group, Office of Human Resources, Office of Management

Ms. Major explained that Leadership Development is recognized as a top priority and is part of NIH’s ongoing effort to improve the strategic management, development and use of talent. This priority is particularly poignant with the impending retirement of ‘baby boomers’ (which includes many NIH leaders). Leadership Development Initiatives will promote and develop a consistent range of leadership skills for current and future NIH executives, proactively develop staff, and continue to enable NIH to maintain its legacy of scientific discovery.

The first initiative, Identifying, Prioritizing and Defining Leadership Proficiencies, identified and defined leadership proficiencies for the NIH top five positions. In addition, it defined the observable behaviors that demonstrate each proficiency. This initiative incorporates input gathered from NIH leadership via focus groups with IC Directors, Deputy Directors, Scientific Directors, Extramural Leaders and Executive Officers. The process generated the following: a proposed proficiency model resulting from the focus groups; recommended proficiency definitions; a segmented set of value statements; and steps for finalization. Ms. Major described that next steps will be to broaden leadership community exposure, communicate the finalized Leadership Proficiency Model to the NIH community, and to begin utilizing the model in recruiting and development efforts.

The second initiative, Identifying Best Practices in Leadership Development at World Class Organizations, included NIH site visits to a selected mix of public and private organizations. From the interviews, common components of leadership development were consistently cited:

  • On the Job Experiences;
  • Special Assignments or Projects;
  • Career Planning and Rotational Assignments;
  • Mentoring/Coaching;
  • Development Programs.

Some of the elements of ‘best practices’ consist of top leadership involvement, building cross-functional relationships, and 360 degree assessments and/or other tools to help identify styles/strengths.

A team of 32 leaders from Intramural, Extramural and Administrative areas have volunteered to participate in the site visits. The next steps will be to aggregate data from each location and identify best practices in leadership development to be integrated at the NIH.

The third initiative, Evaluation of Current Career & Leadership Development Programs, consisted of generating an inventory of career and leadership development programs offered by or through the NIH Training Center, OIR, OER, and the ICs, including those that are both internally and externally developed and delivered. Twenty programs were selected for evaluation in which ‘best practices’ were benchmarked and gaps identified.

In conclusion, Ms. Major informed IC Directors that the next steps for this series of initiatives will be to:

  • Identify ‘best practices’ that are relevant and applicable to the NIH;
  • Integrate leadership proficiencies for NIH ‘top 5’ leaders with other proficiency models and cascade proficiencies to leaders at all levels in the various NIH communities;
  • Integrate leadership proficiencies into interview guides for use in evaluating internal and external candidates;
  • Create leadership development programs to build and reinforce leadership proficiencies in current staff beginning with an executive leadership development program for the NIH ‘top 5.’

IC Directors agreed that leadership development is a priority and NIH should be proactive in guaranteeing an optimal level of leadership development. IC Directors stressed it is a critical issue for future success and NIH’s ability to continually move forward and progress with its mission.

Kerry Brink
Cc: OD Small Staff

This page was last reviewed on August 19, 2008 .
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