Managers hone leadership skills through college program

Federal managers who graduated Friday from an American University leadership program said more than six months of weekends spent in the classroom have helped them significantly improve their job performance.

The program, launched in September by The American University, is designed to help government managers develop the five core competencies necessary for Senior Executive Service positions: business acumen, coalition-building skills, communication skills, the ability to drive change, effective leadership and the ability to achieve tangible results.

Robert Tobias, director of The American University's Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation, said he developed the curriculum in hopes of helping managers act on their ideas. Many managers Tobias has met at seminars had a "real deficit in terms of how to actually implement policy," he said. "They had good theories and understood the concepts but were unable to institute change."

Six managers from the Internal Revenue Service, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Personnel Management, Census Bureau and Labor Department were the first participants in the program. To receive a Certificate in Leadership for Public Policy Implementation, each manager completed at least six of eight courses offered. Classes took place on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, and the employees worked full-time while earning the certificate, which is not a degree.

The program was a lot of work and took a significant chunk out of the weekend, but was well worthwhile, according to Quasette Smith Crowner, a human resources specialist in the IRS's Executive Services division who graduated from the program last week .

"The cadre of professors was wonderful," she said. The instructors came from diverse backgrounds: some were from academia, but there were also experts from agencies and government consulting groups.

In addition, Crowner said she benefited from having a personal coach who gave her one-on-one tips for improving job performance. Program participants asked their co-workers and agency stakeholders to fill out surveys to identify their strengths and weaknesses, she said. Personal coaches then helped each student analyze the survey results and develop an action plan for addressing shortcomings.

"It involved a lot of pushing yourself and self-reflection," Crowner said.

Ann Junkins, another IRS manager who completed the program, said she also appreciated the personal coaching. She said the classes provided a "terrific balance of academia and hands-on experience" and helped her build confidence.

As director of cooperative efforts at the IRS, Junkins serves as a liaison between the agency and unions. She said she found the program's training on how to resolve conflicts and provide constructive feedback to agency customers and subordinates particularly useful. "That's a huge skill many people haven't mastered," she said.

Both Junkins and Crowner said they also learned a lot from their peers. "We created a wonderful network for sharing information and supporting each other," Crowner said.

The six graduates' supervisors told Tobias they were also pleased with the program. They said they noticed a substantial improvement in their job performance after the six enrolled in the leadership courses. Program participants have a better understanding of their job responsibilities and have developed plans for acting on their ideas, the supervisors said.

For the most part, agency management was very supportive of managers and understanding when they had to leave work early for class on Friday afternoons, Junkins and Crowner said. Agencies paid for all six managers to attend classes at a cost of $2,500 per course.

"In these days of tight budgets, you don't often get a chance to train outside the agency," Junkins said. She added that she hopes the IRS will continue to send managers to the program.

The next round of classes will begin in September and will be limited to 20 participants. If enough managers are interested, agencies will prescreen applications limiting the number who can apply to the program, Tobias said. Applicants must be a GS-13 or above and possess significant management experience and potential. To apply, managers need to submit a letter of recommendation and have an interview at The American University.

For more information about the program, visit the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation Web site.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.