Integrating the Competencies into your “Leading Change” Narrative
Most Senior Executive Service (SES) vacancy announcements will require you to submit Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) narratives. In previous articles, we have discussed the best way to integrate the competencies into Leading People and Results Driven. This month, we’ll talk about Leading Change, and I will include a few ideas for addressing the individual competencies (in bold below).
First, think about situations in which your efforts brought about strategic change to meet an organizational goal. Here are some examples of topics you might use for your Leading Change ECQ:
- Developing a new vision for an organization in disorder or garnering support for another’s vision under difficult circumstances, overcoming resistance and obtaining buy-in;
- Starting up a new organization; garnering support, resources and manpower from scratch;
- Designing/implementing new, streamlined work procedures or processes to improve operations, cost reductions and overall performance;
- Introducing automated programs, tools and technologies to optimize business performance;
- Leading a merger, acquisition, joint venture and business-building initiative.
Once you select an appropriate topic, try starting with an external vision of the program, describing how it was perceived by outsiders or government entities or if you had to deal with and overcome any internal or external resistance. What were some of the key national and international policies as well as economic, political and social trends affecting the organization? (external awareness)
Now that you’ve set up the problem or situation you needed to change, including all of the obstacles in your path, it’s time to describe your actions and results. Write about how you took a strategic view (strategic thinking) of the situation, and established an organizational vision (vision) and change management plan.
Next, describe exactly what you did to overcome resistance, gain support for the vision/plan and lead a transformation. You also want to show how you remained positive and proactive, even when there were bumps in the road. Did you maintain focus and intensity, even in the face of adversity, pressure and pushback? (flexibility/resilience) Finally, you want to show how something you did, or a plan or method you used, was new to the organization. How did you think “outside the box” to manage and drive positive change? (creativity/innovation)
Since you need to tell your story in the Challenge-Context-Action-Result (CCAR) format, and you’ve addressed all the competencies above, it’s time to capture the results. What changed as a result of your efforts? Did the culture around a specific issue or program change? Hint: The problem or change that you explained in the challenge/context section should be addressed in the results section. Also, it’s nice to include any formal or informal recognition you or your team received for these efforts.
As always, it’s a great idea to read the Office of Personnel Management’s guidance on writing ECQs. You may also want to pick up a copy of our book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service, which includes samples and ECQ builders.
Writing your ECQs isn’t necessarily an easy process, but if you present your examples in the CCAR format and ask yourself questions like the ones I’ve included in this article, you will be well on your way to developing strong ECQs that will effectively demonstrate your executive potential.
Barbara Adams is the President and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. (CPG). She has been on the leading edge of SES application development for decades. Committed to providing world-class service, she has also built an SES writing team that has assisted more than 2,500 clients develop their application materials. Ms. Adams has been featured on T.V. and the radio, and as a presenter at numerous career conferences. CPG recently sent a team to instruct senior officials at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, in best practices for developing their SES application materials. She is the co-author of the new book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications, and Develop Your SES Application.
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