A fundamental part of the SES application process is ECQ writing. Many applicants fear writing ECQs and the idea of it can be overwhelming. Let’s start by talking about the ECQs in general. The Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) describe the leadership skills needed to succeed in the SES; they also reinforce the concept of an “SES corporate culture.” This concept holds that the Government needs executives who can provide strategic leadership and whose commitment to public policy and administration transcends their commitment to a specific agency mission or an individual profession.
OPM has identified five executive core qualifications. The ECQs were designed to assess executive experience and potential–not technical expertise. They measure whether an individual has the broad executive skills needed to succeed in a variety of SES positions–not whether they are the most superior candidate for a particular position. (The latter determination is made by the employing agency.) Successful performance in the SES requires competence in each ECQ. The ECQs are interdependent; successful executives bring all five to bear when providing service to the Nation.
The ECQs are:
This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. This ECQ requires the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.
This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. This ECQ requires the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.
This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. This ECQ requires the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.
This core qualification requires the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.
This core qualification requires the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.
Each of the ECQs include sub-competencies which are the personal and professional attributes that are critical to successful performance in the SES. They are based on extensive research of Government and private sector executives and input from agency Senior Executives and human resources managers. There are 28 sub-competencies. Twenty-two of them are specific to one of the ECQs; the remaining six are fundamental and cross-cutting across all ECQs.
Each applicant to the SES must demonstrate their experience in each ECQ, as well as the sub-competencies. How do you do that? By telling interesting, engaging stories that illustrate how you have exhibited these competencies in your work or volunteer activities.
Our next article will include additional information on how to tell your stories.