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Key Executive Leadership Programs

About the Key Executive Leadership Certificate with Action Learning and ECQ Writing

A combination of our traditional Key Executive Leadership Certificate and Action Learning for Federal Agencies programs, the Key Executive Leadership Certificate with Action Learning and ECQ Writing provides a cutting-edge approach to leadership development. Agencies have an opportunity to develop personal leadership capacity and tackle existing agency problems using the acquired contemporary public management knowledge, values, and skills in the classroom. 

Key Distinguishing Factors

The Cohort Approach

Similar to open enrollment KEY programs, the Key Executive Leadership Certificate with Action Learning and ECQ Writing follows the cohort model in which students matriculate, advance, and graduate together. Within the cohort, students begin to create a trusting environment that builds through the program and enables students to transfer knowledge, enhance communication, hone teaching skills, provide/receive honest feedback, and develop a career-long support group.

Action Learning

A powerful tool for self-awareness and group-awareness, action learning challenges students to ask questions, learn from the process, and take action to implement a set of solutions to a real problem facing an agency or organization. During the process, students are challenged to simultaneously advance leadership development, team building, paradigm shifts, organizational learning, and culture change. Encouraged to go deeper in the thought process, students begin to uncover aspects of the problem that may be covert.

Action Learning Coaching

To reinforce classroom learning, Action Learning coaches conduct eight Action Learning coaching sessions with each team. This ensures teams maintain consistency in using the action learning methodology and refine the leadership skills to properly apply the Action Learning process.

Sessions 1-6


As Action Learning coaches continue to meet with the teams, they work to gauge their progress, review individual leadership competency development plans, and assess future steps.

Session 7


Occurs four to five months from the start of the program. Teams at this point are preparing for the out-brief with their executive sponsor. Teams will meet with KEY faculty and coaches to conduct a mock presentation, outline the outcomes of the action learning process, assess the quality of the presentation, and make necessary revisions.

Session 8


Occurs five to six months after the start of the program. Teams present to their executive sponsor. Following the presentation, Action Learning coaches meet with the team to review lessons-learned, assess accomplishments of individual leadership goals, and assess future plans for continued leadership growth.

Executive Coaching and 360° Evaluations

In addition to the course work, students will also receive two 360° evaluation and four one-on-one executive coaching sessions designed to help develop their emotional intelligence and transfer the learning and knowledge acquired from the course modules to their specific work situation. A personal coach is assigned to work with each student. Participants will gain greater insight into their personal leadership style and approach as well as provide a forum for them to process personal feedback, seek advice on management and leadership skills, and develop an action plan for continued personal and professional development.

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) Writing Workshop

During this unique and highly valued workshop, students will acquaint themselves with the SES application requirements and the ECQs. Students will complete one ECQs narrative during the one-day session.

"Pracademic" Faculty

Known for their prominent reputation in public administration, executive education, and adult learning, KEY "Pracademic" Faculty lead relevant and engaging discussions advancing students' knowledge in the five areas identified by OPM as critical to success in the SES—leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions.

Reflective Journaling

A tool used throughout each of the Key Programs, reflective journaling provides students with a tool to think critically and analytically about their experiences. Most importantly students gain insight into self-awareness, revealing how events, ideas, experiences, processes, etc. are interrelated. Experiences that are generally perceived as chaotic and random seem less ambiguous through the use of reflective journaling.


The curriculum is designed to provide substantive knowledge and increase leadership capacity. Students will develop a profound understanding and approach to developing those they lead as they sustain real change, improvement, and growth.

Course 1  

Days 1-5


Action Learning

Course 2  

Days 6-9


Transforming from Managing to Leading

Course 3  

Days 10-13


Transforming in the Context of Constitutional Government

Course 4  

Days 14-17


Leader as a Team Builder and Facilitator

Course 5  

Days 18-21


Leading through Strategic Communication

Course 6  

Days 22-25


Leading Organizational Change to Achieve Results

Course 7  

Days 26-29


Leadership Skills for Program Goal Setting, Monitoring, and Evaluation  

    Day 30   ECQ Writing Workshop
Course 8  

Days 31-34


Leading Effective Public Policy Implementation 


Reading is a critical component to the program. Students are provided and expected to read approximately 20 books over the course of the program. The reading selections not only provide a foundation for classroom discussions, but also serve as another source to acquire and assimilate new information and knowledge outside of the classroom.

KEY believes reading is necessary to expand a range of choices for actions.

Benefits of the Program

Developing a Key Executive Leadership Certificate with Action Learning and ECQ Writing with KEY provides several advantages to agencies, including, but not limited to:

  • Building a cadre of emerging leaders who have the ability to fill positions at higher organizational levels;

  • Focusing on the major initiatives in response to ongoing changes;

  • Providing agency participants with the knowledge to develop and implement an organizational vision that integrates goals, priorities, and values;

  • Harnessing intellectual power through the use of the Action Learning process in building integrated teams skilled in reflective questioning and in refining organizational problems.

  • Enabling teams, through Action Learning, to reflect and carefully conceive practical action plans for current agency challenges.

  • Honing individual leadership skills and building an interconnected fabric of professionalism that enhances the performance and learning culture of the agency.

Request Additional Information

If you are interested in learning more about this program and how it will help your agency develop its leaders, please contact Bob Tobias.