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Leadership Competencies for the USGS

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  • Leaders must have credibility.
    • Understand and appropriately apply procedures, requirements, regulations and policies related to areas of expertise.
  • Leaders must possess external awareness.
    • Able to identify and remain up-to-date on key national and internal policies and economic and political and social trends that are critical to the "teachings" of the organization.
  • Leaders are politically savvy.
    • Ability to identify the internal and external politics that impact the USGS and formulate appropriate approaches to each problem situation.


Communication Skills

  • Leaders must possess effective interpersonal skills.
    • Consider and respond to the needs, feelings and capabilities of different people in different situations.
    • Effectively communicate to all levels: managers, peers, and employees.
    • Exercise effective listening skills, clarifying information as needed and facilitate an open exchange of ideas.
    • Have the ability to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing-make clear, factual and organized verbal and written presentations to a variety of audiences.



  • Leaders must have the ability to consistently develop and sustain cooperative working relationships.
    • Be able to build networks and alliances, engage in cross-functional activities and collaborate across boundaries; honor commitments, gain cooperation from others to obtain information and accomplish goals.
    • Able to manage conflicts effectively.
      • Respectfully confront issues and disagreements in a positive and constructive manner to minimize negative impact.


Personal Development

  • Leaders must value continual learning.
    • Have the ability to grasp the essence of new information, master new technical and business knowledge, recognize own strengths and weaknesses and pursue self-development.
  • Leaders must instill mutual trust and confidence.
    • Create a culture that fosters high standards of ethics.
    • Hold himself/herself accountable and reliable to ensure that projects within areas of responsibility are completed in a timely manner.
    • Be open to feedback from others and use this feedback to make corrective changes as appropriate.
    • Must be flexible and open to change.
    • Have the ability to adapt behaviors and work methods in response to new information, changing conditions or unexpected obstacles.
  • Leaders must be resilient.
    • Deal effectively with pressure, maintaining focus and intensity, and remain optimistic and persistent even under adversity.


Problem Solving/Critical Thinking

  • Leaders must have the ability to identify and analyze problems.
    • Distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information to make logical decisions.
    • Communicate.
    • Able to exercise good judgment by making timely and effective, well-informed decisions.
    • Anticipate the impact and implications of their decisions.
    • Apply creative solutions based on new insights to make organizational improvements.
    • Able to deeply question and investigate the reasoning and logic of ideas and approaches.
  • Leaders must encourage thought-provoking curiosity, creativity, and analysis.


Strategic Thinking and Direction Setting

  • Leaders must demonstrate the ability to take a long-term view and act as a catalyst for innovative organization changes.
    • Build a shared vision with others.
    • Influence others to translate vision into action.
    • Determine objectives and set priorities.
    • Anticipate issues and opportunities.


Customer Service

  • Leaders must have the ability to create and sustain a team culture that encourages others to provide the quality of service essential to high performance.
    • Enable others to acquire the tools and support they need to perform well.
    • Influence others toward a spirit of service and meaningful contributions to accomplish mission.
    • Balance interests of a variety of clients.
    • Anticipate and meet the needs of clients.
    • Achieve quality end-products and be committed to continuous improvement of services.


Business Management

  • Leaders must acquire and administer human, financial, material, and information resources in a manner that instills public trust and accomplishes the USGS mission, and use new technology to enhance decision making.
    • Assure that effective controls are developed and maintained to ensure the integrity of their charge.
    • By applying merit principles, hold self and others accountable for rules and responsibilities.
    • Ensure that projects are completed in a timely manner and within budget.
    • Monitor and evaluate plans, focus on results and measurements.
    • Manage financial resources and budgetary processes with efficient and cost-effective approaches
    • Ensure that team members are appropriately selected, developed, utilized, rewarded and recognized as well as take corrective action appropriately.
    • Value cultural diversity and other individual differences in the workforce.
    • Ensure people are treated fairly and equitably.


For assessments, please contact Jennifer Jones.


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