Why Preparing to Lead will help advance your career
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Why Preparing to Lead will help advance your career

January 6, 2022 | Updated on August 14, 2023
Parker Schaffel

Preparing to Lead is the premier leadership and professional development program for GS-7 to GS-11 federal employees. As one of the instructors for Preparing to Lead, I have gained unique perspectives on why the course truly is an exceptional professional development opportunity for federal employees who are taking on new levels of responsibility or looking to grow into better leaders at their agencies.

Preparing to Lead sets up participants for future success

Preparing to Lead is broken down into eight sessions, and each session is a deep dive into an area that is critical for effective leadership: emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration, innovation and more. Each session comprises unique Partnership content, expert speakers and breakout sessions where participants discuss and reflect on how to incorporate lessons from the course into their professional lives.

It also fosters exceptional professional growth

Preparing to Lead is different from other programs because it occurs over five months rather than one jam-packed week. This approach enables participants to apply the lessons of each session over time.

I saw this process unfold firsthand. In the beginning of the session, participants applied emotional intelligence lessons—presented in session one—to how they communicated—a focus of session two. By the end, participants were using lessons from early sessions to think about ways to better innovate at their agency—a topic covered in session seven. After completing the program, one participant noted, “The overview that was given on each core concept is something that I will use every day. I can’t put a value on how much the overall program has helped me to look at how I will accomplish a task differently.”

This approach allows for a level of growth and reflection that doesn’t occur in a weeklong course.

The group project shows what interagency collaboration really looks like

During Preparing to Lead, participants join project teams and produce a final presentation, which they brief during the last session. We try not to assign more than one participant from any particular agency to a project team so that participants may learn about different agencies’ missions and gain real experience in interagency collaboration. It doesn’t always go well, but that’s by design. The setup requires team members to navigate different types of group dynamics and work together toward a common goal—valuable experience that can pay off in the federal workplace when working with other agencies.

Participants learn so much from one another

I always remind participants that they will learn far more from one another than they will from me. While I might know more about leadership theories and rely on my own experiences as a supervisor, leader and military officer, their combined experiences—on average more than 100 years of professional work—far surpass what I bring to the table. The stories and lessons that participants share with one another—and the bonds they develop during that process—are invaluable.

Preparing to Lead will make you a better leader

If you are a GS-7 to GS-11 federal employee, you should consider enrolling in Preparing to Lead, as it will set you up for long-term success in your career—whether you remain a federal employee or not. Of those who responded to our final survey about the course, every single one agreed—and 78% strongly agreed—that Preparing to Lead helped them become a better leader.

Will you join them?

Visit ourpublicservice.org/ptl to learn more about Preparing to Lead and how you can join the next session.

Parker Schaffel is a former facilitator for the Preparing to Lead program.

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