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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.

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

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)

Tue, Oct 10, 2017

It’s pretty obvious that many of the respondents are of the old guard. Leadership development is a difficult thing to do even in industry. Of particular interest is the talk that they lack infrastructure. This is proof to me that they don’t understand leadership and are stuck in the “same old, same old” mindset of blaming a lack of money and a fancy computer system. If your solution is to spend more money and say that someone else is accountable, you’re not a leader, you’re at best a manager.

Tue, Oct 10, 2017 FED-UP Montrose, NY

I have been pointing this out for years. Management is only concerned with supervision and not leadership. Leadership is a very important skill that is overlooked by civil service. The first problem is the OPM hiring system. In order for your resume to clear OPM and be sent to an agency for consideration, you must lie. If you are truthful about your experience and qualification you will be rejected by OPM as not qualified enough. So, the outcome is that the federal government is staffed with liars. The next issue is that selections for management positions are not based on qualifications or leadership skills, but by how well someone will fit into the institutional system and not rock the boat. If you have experience from the free market or you think outside the box, you are not wanted. "Yes men" are the best to protect the crime family of civil service. Strong leadership qualities are also a danger to the family. I don't think this will ever change, and it is the main reason why we are so broken.

Tue, Oct 10, 2017

The government has a few decent managers. Most however do nothing except collect a pay check, travel at will, and berate their employees by lower performance ratings. It is time that most management get streamlined and be placed into either a position that has accountability and performance standards or give them ta nice pink piece of paper and show them the door.

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