March 2019 ACTION Column

Public Service Leadership as a Profession will be a flagship initiative for SEA in 2019 and the years to come.

A Framework to begin implementing SEA’s vision of Public Service Leadership as a Profession has been completed by the SEA Human Capital Leadership Community of Change.   The Framework:

  1. Defines what a Federal Public Service Leader is.
  2. Identifies the unique and vital services provided by Federal Public Service Leaders.
  3. Explores the leadership competencies, attributes and experiences required to be a Federal Public Service Leader.
  4. Identifies the leadership development pathways for a Federal Public Service Leader.

This is an ambitious undertaking that we believe will transform how we develop leaders in the Federal government and create a profession that is self-policing and results in 21st Century leaders prepared for the monumental challenges we know we will face as a Nation.

The origins of the initiative come from two sources.                        

First, SEA, in partnership with Deloitte, conducted a State of Senior Career Leadership Survey in 2017 that found that most SES do not believe their agencies are doing enough to cultivate current leaders and do not have leadership pipeline programs in place.  This finding cut across all agencies and motivated SEA’s leadership to develop solutions to the problem.

Second, it has been obvious to many observers that the concept of leadership in the Federal government has not evolved since the passage of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act created the SES Corps.  The Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) are out of date and SES are often silo’ed within their agencies in their technical specialties and are not given opportunities to contribute their leadership capabilities for the national good. In addition, it is clear that leaders are present at all levels of government, whether you are a GS-12 or an SES…leadership is a calling and a profession that should be cultivated.

These two factors – a lack of leadership development opportunities and a lack of clarity about what it means to be a leader in the Federal government – spurred SEA into action.  If you would like to join us to fully develop the Framework, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at  

This is a huge undertaking and will take years to fully implement, but now is the time for action.


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