What have we done based on what we heard?
What we heard: There needs to be leadership training available for all USGS employees regardless of position, job title, or grade in order to foster a leadership centered culture within the Survey.
What we did: Developed a series of different leadership courses that provide opportunity for all USGS employees to have some form of exposure to leadership courses and concepts.
There are number of leadership development opportunities in the USGS that aim to make leadership a more fundamental part of the USGS culture. The courses include:
- Leadership 101
- Leadership 201
- Leadership Intensives
Since the Leadership 101 and 201 courses are targeted toward higher GS levels, a new program, Leadership Intensives was launched in 2002 that is open to all grade levels. The Train-The-Trainer course is offered on an as needed basis to train L201 graduates to become Leadership Intensive instructors.
What we heard: The USGS desires to create a rewarding environment
What we did/do: Created the Excellence in Leadership Award and the Leadership Coin to reward excellent demonstrations of leadership within the USGS.
The USGS Excellence in Leadership Award is granted annually to recognize an individual, or group of individuals, for outstanding acts, services, or achievements that exemplify and support the USGS goal of developing a leadership-centered culture throughout the bureau. The leadership coin has been designed to acknowledge those extraordinary acts of leadership and is supposed to be "passed on" to other deserving individuals who demonstrate effective leadership.
What we heard: Participants of the Leadership 101 and Leadership 201 courses wanted a way to "keep that leadership fire alive" and help them follow up and follow through after they complete Leadership 101 and 201 classes
What we did/do:
- Developed an online discussion board to allow continuing dialogue among participants.
- Send a letter written by each participant to themselves about important things they want to remember about the class 6 months after of the class.
- Provide a "Things to Remember" list during the class so that each participant has a brief reminder sheet of what was most meaningful to them.
- Developed "Leadership Challenges" idea sheet in the notebooks that included:
- Follow-through on the Action Plan
- Mentoring-Leadership links
- Book club
- Developing a plan to share the leadership fire
- Post class materials
What we heard: USGS employees were interested in hearing and learning about the 7 USGS Guiding Principles.
What we did/do: 1) Created materials that Leadership 101 Course participants can take back to their home offices to use in delivering presentations about the Guiding Principles. 2) Integrated the Guiding Principles into the Leadership Intensive curriculum under the "Principled Leadership" module. 3) Provide Guiding Principles brochure in all our leadership notebooks and informational packages. 4) Provide posters that highlight the Guiding Principles to each office that hosts a Leadership Intensive class.
The Leadership Program (LP) has taken a number of actions in response to the requests to generate more awareness about the USGS Guiding Principles. After the Leadership 101 course, all participants are equipped with PowerPoint slides and the knowledge to deliver presentations about the Guiding Principles in their home offices. After the Guiding Principles have been discussed in the Leadership Intensive courses, the office hosting the training is presented with a poster that outlines and explains the principles. The posters are being hung in offices around the country to serve as reminders about the Guiding Principles and why they are important.
During the class itself, participants write down what is most meaningful to them on a sheet that can be used as a reference and resource after the class is done. In addition to the "Things to Remember" sheet, participants are encouraged to write a letter to themselves about what they want to remember about the class 6 months after its completion. After 6 months, the LP sends them their letter. All initiatives serve to remind people of their leadership experience and connect with their peers and colleagues. The Leadership Challenges sheet includes tips and ideas to help participants continue to foster their own leadership development after the class has ended.
What we heard: The ELT and LP participants were interested in learning about the impact of the LP program on the USGS as a whole.
What we did: Began a formal evaluation process to assess the programís effectiveness.
The LP has contracted with Walden Consulting since 1999 to provide an in-depth analysis of the impact of the courses in developing a leadership-centered culture at the USGS. This website, along with Yearly Reports, provides information about the impact of the LP program.
What we heard: Class participants have valuable feedback about the courses and about the USGS in general.
What we did/do: Collect feedback from LP classes and summarize for the Executive Leadership Team (ELT).
There are evaluation forms for each session of each class that ask participants to provide feedback about the session itself, and in some sessions, about issues related to that session topic that are currently facing the USGS. Up to twice a year, this information is synthesized into a report that is sent to the ELT to educate them about the thoughts, concerns, and opinions of USGS employees.
What we heard: Given the budget cuts the USGS experienced in the last fiscal year, employees were hesitant to spend budget dollars on travel to training classes.
What we did: Identified a number of geographically dispersed USGS offices to host the Leadership Intensive courses.
By bringing the Leadership Intensive training classes to a number of geographically dispersed offices across the U.S.; more people have had the exposure to leadership training without requiring expenditures from their home offices for travel.
What we heard: Participants wanted a simplified, yet more robust feedback instrument to be used the leadership classes. They wanted it to offer more than just the self-assessment and feedback from the supervisor without further complicating the process.
What we did: Developed the 360-degree feedback instrument with some iterative modifications.
Since written feedback provides the most valuable information, the LP created an easy to use, web-based feedback instrument that incorporated feedback from not only the participantís supervisor, but also peers, employees and the participant himself or herself. When participants and their colleagues complete the 360-degree feedback, they go to a specified URL and fill out a form online. The LP synthesizes all the feedback and provides a report to each participant which is used in the leadership class.
What we heard: People wanted easy access to information about the leadership program, our classes and participants, and the Excellence in Leadership Award.
What we did: Developed the Leadership website
In order to provide easy access to the most updated information, the LP developed a website that includes information on classes themselves, dates, locations, rosters, the Excellence in Leadership Award, the Leadership Coin, history of the leadership program, and leadership tools.
What we heard: It would be helpful to have a way to keep track of who had taken Leadership Classes.
What we did: Created a leadership training database
The database keeps track each participantís region, discipline, contact information and leadership training history including Leadership 101, Leadership 201, Leadership Intensives, Federal Executive Institute, Executive Leadership Program, Womenís Executive Leadership Program, Senior Executive Service Career Development Program, and Team Leadership Program. It also allows for queries to be run that will pull specific pieces of information relating to class attendance, dates, region, and /or discipline.
What we heard: Participants wanted to have support and tools to help them to live the principles they learned in the courses once they got back to the office.
What we did/do: Developed the Action Planning component of the Leadership 101 and 201 classes and send out "leadership ideas" to participants on a regular basis upon completion of the class.
Based on feedback from the 360-degree feedback instrument, the Personal Discernment Index, and using their personal vision, participants work with a partner to develop one or two actions with which to follow through when they return to the office. The partner serves as a support and collegial coach. Additionally, the "leadership ideas" are periodically sent to participants to remind them of some leadership concepts.
What we heard: There were changes that could be made to the new Leadership Intensive curriculum that would improve the impact and value of the class.
What we did: Instituted a formal debriefing process with Leadership Intensive instructors and instructional coaches.
After each Leadership Intensive class takes place, there are a number of evaluation forms that instructors are asked to fill out that highlight what went well in the class and what areas could be improved. The instructors, coach, and members of the LP team use this information in a debriefing session that has resulted in improvements and changes to the PowerPoint presentations, class activities, and course curriculum. Module content, timing of certain agenda items, and the learning objectives for several of the topical areas have been changed based on this feedback.
What we heard: There needed to be an easy way for instructors and coaches to access the most up-to-date information related to the Leadership Intensive curriculum.
What we did: Provided periodic updates and established website to provide most recent information.
As the LP received more suggestions and recommendations for the Leadership Intensive course materials and as more changes were made to the slides and content, it was determined that instructors and coaches needed to be receiving updates of changes. New copies of instructor notebooks were sent out until the update website was up and running. Now, instructors and coaches can access, download, and print the most up-to-date course materials from the web.
What we heard: Participants wanted to know more about the ELT and about the course instructors.
What we did: Developed autobiographical forms for ELT members and course instructors to fill out that are distributed to the participants before the Executive forum and class sessions.
In each LP class notebook, there is a biographical information sheet for each ELT member as well as the instructors and trainers. This gives participants a chance to acquaint themselves with ELT and instructor backgrounds to better prepare them for interaction and question and answer sessions.
What we heard: In the Leadership 101 and 201 courses, participants said that certain course modules were less useful than others, and there were some topics not covered that would have been positive additions.
What we did: Deleted the Collaboration Relationships module, discontinued use of the Leadership Effectiveness Inventory, and included additional modules on creativity and rewarding environment.
Based on feedback given to the LP through the course evaluations for both Leadership 101 and Leadership 201, there have been a number of deletions and additions. Participants consistently noted that the Collaborative Relationships module was less useful than other modules, so it was deleted. Participants also noted that the Leadership Effectiveness Inventory was seen as lacking in overall usefulness relative to length, so the new 360-degree feedback process replaced it. Modules on creativity and rewarding environment have also been added in response to this feedback.
What we heard: Participants prefer to stay on-site at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) during the Leadership 101 and 201 courses.
What we did/do: Reserve lodging for the number of anticipated participants at the NCTC.
Although it is not always possible to secure lodging for all participants, the LP submits event applications to the NCTC for each of the leadership courses at least one year in advance in order to secure lodging to the greatest extent possible.
What we heard: There may be a better way to teach the creativity component of Leadership 201 where all the information isnít shared in one day.
What we did: The LP is in the process of investigating additional teaching methods and techniques to increase the value and effectiveness of this module.
In response to a recommendation to consider integrating new teaching methods, the instructor is staying the entire week and will be teaching the modules throughout the week to help the participants work through their action learning projects and integrate creative problem solving techniques. Additionally, the instructor and LP are in the process of testing and exploring a new software program that helps "capture group learning experientially and help synthesize a product from it." In the event that the LP chooses to use this software program, there would be additional changes to the agenda and the way that the creativity portion of the class is run.
What we heard: The LP should showcase leadership materials to increase awareness about leadership, the Leadership Program, and leadership resources.
What we did: Created Leadership Displays
At the National Training Center in Denver, Colorado, there is a permanent display case that includes leadership books, the Guiding Principles poster, a leadership coin, and other leadership related material. There are three additional traveling leadership displays that are set up at leadership courses around the country.
What we heard: Participants wanted information about leadership resources including web pages, books, and other publications.
What we did: Developed and distributed a reference and reading materials sheets.
In each leadership course notebook, there is a sheet with a list of recommended leadership websites, as well as a list of leadership related books and publications.
What we heard: The Leadership Intensives that have been held in Reston are more effective when held off-site.
What we did: Scheduled all Reston Leadership Intensives off-site.
Based on the feedback that hosting the Leadership Intensive at the U.S. National Park Services was a good idea, all subsequent Leadership Intensives in Reston have been held there.
What we heard: The Leadership classes needed to be more interactive and participatory.
What we did: Adopted the "Itís all about the participants" mentality.
Being responsive to the needs of the participants is the most important thing about a running a meaningful and effective leadership class. The LP has made the commitment to honoring the needs and requests of participants whenever possible. One example of the LPĎs commitment to this mentality took place in a recent Leadership Intensive class. Participants said they would like to spend time talking about the Florida Integrated Science Center and pulling together feedback for the Board of Directors. The instructors ran a special session to accommodate this request and allowed the participants to spend time developing feedback to present to the Board.
What we heard: USGS stories are an important part of organizational history and culture and should be spread throughout the Survey.
What we did: Solicited USGS leadership stories and posted them on the Leadership website.
The Acts of Leadership Stories link is where leadership related stories from within the USGS are posted. Instructors from all the leadership courses are encouraged to ask participants to write up stories to post on this website. There is submission instructions/guidelines listed on the website.