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Federal agencies not doing enough to build next generation of leaders

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Every successful team has a solid bench. In the sporting world, the Washington Redskins were able to withstand Robert Griffin III's injuries because they had a capable back-up in Kirk Cousins. In the workplace, succession planning exists to ensure there are individuals who can step in when turnover in leadership occurs.

To meet the complex challenges facing our government, agencies need to develop their own leadership bench for the Senior Executive Service (SES)--the career leaders who are central to the operation of every federal agency.

A new report from my organization, the Partnership for Public Service, and McKinsey & Company examined the current state of talent development for the SES and found that agencies pay insufficient attention to identifying, developing, recruiting and selecting individuals for the SES--leaving our government's bench all too weak.

The need to ensure that highly qualified individuals are being groomed to take over these critical executive roles becomes even more urgent with the significant number of SES retirements on the horizon.

Without a central authority responsible for talent development government wide, each agency has created its own methods for managing up-and-coming leaders. Most agencies have components of a talent pipeline, but the study found that many agencies have failed to put the kind of processes in place that will enhance their prospects of developing a strong bench of skilled managers and problem solvers.

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