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Executive Development

Types of Leader Development

Development comes in many forms. One can gain a broader perspective by reading an executive leadership book or engaging in a more formal activity. Below are activities that one can utilize for further development.

Formal Training: OPM offers formal training at its Management Development Centers and the Federal Executive Institute. Agencies obtain formal training through other organizations. For more information, visit the Executive Development Community web page.

360 Degree Feedback: 360 degree feedback is a widely used method and tool to assist in identifying strengths and their developmental needs. It is usually conducted in a survey format and collects opinions about the participants from a wide range of individuals including the participant's co-workers, supervisor, direct subordinates as well as customers and other peers outside the executive's agency. OPM offers 360 degree survey services as do other organizations.

Mentoring: For those individuals who just entered the SES or are interested in becoming an SES member, it is recommended to seek out an experienced SES mentor either within or outside their agency. A mentor will provide valuable insight and experiences. Mentors are individuals who can share new ideas, challenges, and accomplishments.

Experienced SES members are encouraged to become mentors. It is a great way to share knowledge and experiences with someone who is looking to succeed in the SES.

Executive Coaching: Executive Coaching is a confidential, one-on-one partnership between an executive, manager, or team leader and a qualified coach to improve managerial performance and enhance learning. Both parties work together to set clearly defined goals, activities and time limits that will facilitate learning and performance improvement for the executive, manager, or team leader. Today's leaders and managers are turning to executive coaches to assist them whether it is helping them prepare for more responsibility or manage work-related stress.

The Federal Executive Institute, as well as other organizations including the Federal Consulting Group, a franchise of the U.S. Department of Treasury, provide executive coaching services to meet the leadership development needs of new and seasoned executives, managers, and team leaders.

Mobility Assignments: Current and aspiring executives have the option to participate in mobility assignments. 5 U.S.C. 3131, states that the Senior Executive Service is to be administered so as to “enable the head of an agency to reassign senior executives to best accomplish the agency mission,” and to “provide for the initial and continuing systematic development of highly competent senior executives.”

These assignments consist of details, special/short-term assignments, transfers, projects, use of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act authority, sabbaticals, formal training and other creative ways to expose executives to challenges or otherwise expand their capacity to serve. Assignments can be to other agencies, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, private sector companies or international organizations. Executives can bring a fresh perspective to a different part of agency or to a different agency if he or she chooses to participate in a mobility assignment outside the agency.

Career SES are eligible for temporary assignments to State, local, and Indian tribal governments, institutions of higher education, and other eligible organizations under provisions of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and title VI of the Civil Service Reform Act, in accordance with requirements in 5 CFR Part 334. These assignments may be made for up to two years and if need be, extended by the head of an agency (or designee) for another two years. Individuals may be detailed to this assignment or placed on leave without pay; however, these individuals continue to encumber positions held before this assignment and continue to be an employee of their agency.

Sabbaticals: Another means for an SES member to gain a broader knowledge and experience is to participate in a sabbatical. Sabbaticals can be used for teaching; study (independent or structured); research; developmental work experience in the private sector, non-profit organizations, State, local, or foreign governments; and an activity or a project not covered above. To be eligible for a sabbatical, SES who are in career appointments must have completed 7 years of service in SES positions or equivalent civil service positions and at least 2 of the 7 years must have been in the SES. The appointee cannot be eligible for voluntary retirement as of the time the sabbatical begins. A sabbatical may not be granted to the same individual more than once in a 10 year period. The SES member must sign an agreement to continue in the civil service for a period of 2 years following the sabbatical. However, an agency head may waive this requirement for “good and sufficient reasons” (e.g. disability retirement, reduction in force, or other involuntary separation).

Action Learning: Action learning is a process for working on important business problems and opportunities in diverse teams to develop the participants and improve the business. It is a process commonly used in the private sector. Action learning closes the gap between theory and practice. More specifically, action learning can provide executives the opportunity to pool resources and work across agencies on similar issues resulting in Governmentwide solutions. Solving the problem and learning individual capacity for leadership are intertwined.