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Key Executive Leadership Certificate Programs

Partnering with federal and local agencies since 2005, the Key Executive Leadership Certificate Programs is designed to enhance students' abilities to meet their agency's mission and inspire others.

Based on the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) developed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Key Executive Leadership Certificate is designed to provide a unique experience for enthusiastic and seasoned managers who have an interest in strengthening management skills, heightening leadership skills, and furthering their public service career.

Creating a participative and rigorous learning environment, students acquire contemporary public management knowledge, values, and skills; develop the personal leadership capacity needed to implement what they learn; transform themselves from good managers to extraordinary leaders; and become lifelong learners.
Program Options

The successful applicant for the Key Executive Leadership Certificate program:
  • typically holds a GS-12 (or above) rank or equivalent NGO or Private Sector experience
  • possesses management experience
  • demonstrate significant leadership potential
Application Requirements:
  • certificate application
  • resume, including awards, special recognition,and accomplishments
  • admission interview with the program director


The tuition for the program is $22,050 per student. This includes all eight courses, six coaching sessions, and all course materials.

Agencies sponsoring one or more students are eligible for a tuition discount through the Federal Supply Schedules; contract number GS-02F-0012X.

Payment Options at a Glance

Payment of full program cost can be made in advance of the certificate program or payment arrangement can be made. However, all program cost must be paid in full before the student will graduate and/or receive their certificate.

Funding Your Certificate

Agency Support: Contact your manager and/or Human Resource Administrator.

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Key Certificate Course Descriptions

ECQs: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, Building

Description:  Participants will explore who they are as leader and who they wish to become by building the emotional intelligence fabric that makes for successful leadership. Participants build a safe, supportive, and collaborative learning community and are challenged to replicate it with those they lead. In addition, participants develop and learn how to leverage their emotional and social intelligence to enhance their abilities in managing conflict for positive results, coaching and mentoring those they lead, influencing others, inspiring others, building consensus, and fostering teamwork in pursuit of agency goals.

Participants are also challenged to understand various phases of adult development and learning and identify practical strategies for leading followers at each phase. Finally, this course leads participants through a hands-on application, on a real-time agency problem, using the Action Learning tool to promote the use of reflective questioning and discourse in addressing organizational challenges.

ECQs: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Building Coalitions

DescriptionParticipants will explore the question, "why lead?" and examine the unique role of leadership versus management in the public sector. Participant's perceptions of management versus leadership are challenged through a series of exercises and class discussions. This course also addresses the unique balance of leader/member exchange, personality, and leadership burnout. Leadership competencies in the public context are presented and discussed, along with significant exposure to the impact of politics, power, and culture on today's public sector leader. Finally, the role of conflict in leadership is explored and applied using real time workplace challenges. Particular emphasis will be placed on: developing an understanding of leadership roles and competencies; assessing your personal style of leadership and how it might be strengthened; examining intrapersonal and interpersonal aspects of leadership; understanding and applying theories of power and influence in organizations; and strengthening your sensitivity to constructively manage conflict in a challenging public sector environment.

The major methodology used in the course is to learn how to become team builders and facilitators by working in smaller teams where participants take turns at facilitating the cohort. Participants receive feedback from both the cohort and the instructor after each step of the team charter is facilitated. The final outcome of the class is the construction of a team charter, which is used as a guiding and flexible team plan for cohort interaction throughout the life of the cohort. Participants will take away greater self-confidence that they can readily apply what they have learned back in their home team settings.

ECQs: Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, Building Coalitions

Description: Managers and leaders increasingly understand the benefit of a coaching style of leadership to develop the capabilities, close performance gaps, teach skills, impart knowledge, motivate, engage, and inculcate desirable work behaviors and competencies of those they lead. This course focuses on the concepts, skills, and techniques needed to positively impact performance through coaching. Participants learn how to:

  • Apply emotional intelligence and appreciative inquiry as foundational concepts for developing those they lead,
  • Recognize “anytime” coaching moments within the context of their overall organizational performance management process,
  • Distinguish between coaching opportunities and performance situations that are better resolved through other means, and
  • Self-diagnose strengths and areas to develop as a leader/coach. 

They learn and practice the following coaching competencies:

  • Observing – themselves through mindfulness practice and observe others more consciously including observing nonverbal cues and emotions,
  • Listening – deeply to others’ ideas and concerns more empathetically,
  • Asking – insightful and powerful questions and distinguishing among types of questions and their uses, and
  • Responding – including giving effective feedback once they have observed, inquired, and listened.

Participants practice these behaviors role-playing scenarios from their work situations. Participants continue with their mindfulness practice to deepen their self-awareness as well as to become more cognizant of the “self” they bring to their workplace. 

ECQs: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Building Coalition

Description: Participants will learn to navigate unique challenges to leading in the public sector including a constitution that provides individual employee protections, 535 members of Congress who serve as a Board of Directors for Executive Branch actions, and a governance system that encourages intense public scrutiny.

Public sector leadership in the U.S. takes place within a democratic-constitutional framework defined by constitutional and administrative law. Legal requirements may be consonant or at odds with achieving mission-based results, cost-effectiveness, motivating employees, and serving customers. However, they are binding on all public managers and employees. This course shows how and why constitutional-legal requirements, and the values underlying them, must be integrated into general administrative processes, practices, and systems. It explains the structure of individual constitutional rights, such as equal protection and procedural due process, as well as the rationale for administrative law's commitment to public participation, representation, open government, and fair treatment of individuals. Finally, this module demystifies constitutional and administrative law, improves non- lawyers' communication and understanding of lawyers, and illustrates how to think about law in the context of leadership.

ECQs: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, Building Coalitions

Description: Participants will learn how to deploy themselves as leader facilitators who act as "instruments of change" by creating high performing teams and team synergy. Participants are introduced to the concept of building a team charter where they master the art of facilitating their cohort group through the essential building blocks of developing a charge, defining their purpose, clarifying their roles, utilizing norms/procedures, and leveraging relationships. Participants engage in a process of real time team building in an experiential approach where they learn about group dynamics including the tension between task and process, stages of group development, political dynamics, and overt and covert processes.

ECQs: Leading Change, Results Driven, Building Coalitions

Description: Participants will dissect the role of strategic communication along with the role of marketing and branding in a public sector context. This course discusses how to bring the strategic planning and marketing principles that have long been successful in the private sector to public policy work. Topics explored include: how to create a strategic plan to determine your communications objectives; how to develop an audience-based communications strategy; and how to test concepts and materials. The module also looks at how to create a marketing communication strategy that goes beyond informing and begins transforming audiences. Finally, as a government entity or an organization with a social mission, participants need to become depositories of public trust in order to be effective in their work. To achieve this, participants talk about how good branding can allow clear speaking in the midst of competing efforts and a cluttered marketplace.

ECQs: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, Building Coalitions

Description: Participants will learn the importance of managing change effectively to successfully implement public policy. This course expands awareness, strengthens skills, and integrates into participants' experience useful concepts and practical tools so that Participants are more able to initiate and lead a successful change effort for results. In addition, participants will: assess change readiness and set the stage for a successful change effort, taking into account the human dimensions of transition; increase understanding of self and others' behavior styles as they relate to change; understand the stages of the change cycle; anticipate and move beyond resistance; examine the role of systems- thinking, mind-body relationship, and state of mind when leading change efforts; and strengthen skills in conducting productive conversation, making agreements, and ensuring accountability.

ECQs: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, Building Coalitions

Description: Participants will learn that leadership starts with the leader and not the led. This course focuses on reviewing different leadership styles, creating a personal leadership philosophy based on the identification of values and vision, identifying the factors that motivate employees; all with the goal of successfully leading public policy implementation. Participants use individual reflection exercises to build insights into how to apply what they are learning to the issues they are facing in the workplace. Participants are encouraged to build networks of colleagues, faculty, coaches, and mentors to support them now and in the future. Participants use individual reflection exercises to build insights and helpful perspectives on issues they are presently facing. Participants are encouraged to build networks and support systems among themselves, faculty, and coaches.