Survey of federal executives finds leadership problems

A recent survey by Deloitte and the Senior Executives Association found that the federal government has issues with its leadership pipeline and needs to design leadership and development programs—among other initiatives—to address the matter.

The survey of more than 750 federal leaders found that the government is not attracting and retaining top talent, and agencies are struggling to identify and promote high-potential leaders over employees with strong technical expertise.

Only 22 percent of respondents said they felt that their agency is well prepared to retain top talent. They also expressed concern over leadership development opportunities, and identified the need for better infrastructure as the cause.

“Agencies are not prepared for the future of work, and even the most senior executive leaders believe significant innovation and collaboration are discouraged by institutional or cultural barriers,” the survey states, adding, ”Furthermore, only 28 percent of respondents felt their agencies had systems in place to enable knowledge-sharing across government leadership.”

There was a bright side to the survey findings. “The good news is that federal executives care deeply about the organizations they lead, clearly understand what they are accountable for, and are anxious to see key changes to help improve leadership selection, development, and empowerment,” according to the survey.

Deloitte and SEA made a number of recommendations for government executives to start addressing these challenges, including:

  • Using evidence-based assessments to identify high-potential individuals with leadership skills;
  • Designing leadership development and training programs that build leadership capabilities through challenging experiences; and
  • Focusing on re-evaluating the work and the workforce of tomorrow in order to make better hiring decisions.

Reader comments

Mon, Dec 4, 2017

AFGE is so strong that anyone with true leadership skills and initiative soon learn that these traits are anethema to AFGE's goals, which is the status quo. Get the workers higher raises, more benefits, work-at-home plans, cushy retirements, but don't you dare make the little darlings do anything they don't want to. Good luck on finding leaders.

Mon, Dec 4, 2017 Jim Baltimore

Over the past 24 years of my service management has gone dramatically downward, in my area - non-existent. After seeing $13 million in illegal hiring, wasted spending for software products and contractor support, I went to the Office of Special Counsel with proof of the abuse of power and extreme incompetence. Reporting the abuse has resulted in no action, no response and no changes. IT components must held responsible for not supporting the hard working employees at SSA. Drain the swamp. Whistleblowing must become more wide spread. Then, the retaliation will stop and improvements made.

Mon, Dec 4, 2017 Bill Samuel

There is a difference between management/ administration and leadership. The Federal system largely designates Presidential appointees as the leadership. These positions are vacant half the time, many of the appointees are incompetent, and few stay long enough to understand their jobs. This won't be fixed by leadership training programs. Going up in the civil service means your duties become more administrative and you attend many more meetings, at most of which you have little opportunity to make an impact. These jobs crush the spirit of creative leaders. The 2 types of people who move up are ass kissers and people who have done great jobs at lower levels. The latter find they are no longer deeply involved in what they love, and often they neither like nor are particularly good at the administrative tasks which now take up their days.

Fri, Oct 13, 2017

It is time that the federal government hire productive managers and dispose of the crooks and minions who think their sole mission is to devaluate employees by their annual reviews; lack of promotion for rank and file workers; favoritism and other forms of gender and age discrimination. At the same time there is no one in the feeding chain that will take and evaluate an employees concerns in regards to how management treats them. A big savings would take place if management was severely streamlined and employees were allowed to do their work that benefits the American people. This of course is a pipe dream since management minons are self perpetuating.

Wed, Oct 11, 2017

There are very few good managers/leaders in the federal government anymore. Today they are mainly ill informed looses who have no backbone when it comes to defending the interests of the rank and file employees. Management bloat reduction would save a bundle over time and allow rank and file employees to do their work with no interference by minions that have no idea what they are supposed to do other than collect a large pay check, rake in big bonuses and cheat on annual leave (working at the golf course)

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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