April 2016
Issue Map
The Public Manager

Leaders Want Professional Growth

Monday, April 11, 2016

A new report reveals that members of the Senior Executive Service aren't getting the training and development they want and need. The highest leaders in the federal government must possess myriad knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully.


According to a Merit Systems Protection Board report, Training and Development for the Senior Executive Service: A Necessary Investment, executives perceived developmental assignments and resident development programs to be most effective for their personal development, but only a small portion of leaders participated in these types of activities. Online training courses had the highest participation, but the lowest reported effectiveness.

Inability to take time away from the job, lack of funding, and lack of support from superiors were the reasons given for the lack of SES development.

The Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, has created a flexible blended learning program that helps leaders build real-world crisis-management skills. This hybrid educational experience consists of two weeks of in-residence instruction followed by six months of distance learning, during which participants apply their learning to their work in the field.


The SES is going through a tough time. There are retirements happening all the time, and very little interest from federal employees to move up in the ranks. President Obama has called for reforms for the SES, which include better personal development opportunities, but hopefully agencies will take a cue from this recent study and from the success of the FEI learning program to give executives the chance to further develop their skills.

Paula Ketter
Editor, The Public Manager
[email protected]

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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