Leadership Skills by pengxiuhui



                             IN THE FOREIGN SERVICE

The Core Precepts provide the guidelines by which Selection Boards determine the tenure and
promotability of U.S. Foreign Service employees. These Precepts will be in effect for the 2008-2009,
2009-2010 and 2010-2011 rating cycles. The precepts reflect the principles of the Career
Development Program, with its emphasis on operational effectiveness, leadership and management
effectiveness, sustained professional language and/or technical proficiency, and responsiveness to
service needs.

The Precepts enlarge upon the headings found in existing Employee Evaluation Report (EER) forms,
defining the specific skills to be considered and the level of accomplishment expected at different
grades. They distinguish between apprentice, journeyman and master level – the junior, mid-level
and senior ranks.

The Precepts are arranged in a grid; the left column defines the skill; the progressive possession and
exercise of that skill are captured in boxes from left to right. The skills are cumulative; the
descriptions for each level assume the employee has mastered those at the lower level(s). The rating
employee should review descriptions at lower levels before making an evaluation. For instance, in
rating a mid-level employee, the rating employee should review the descriptions both for “Mid-level”
and for “Entry-level.”

Because progression in some specialist skill codes is capped at the mid-levels, the Senior Foreign
Service column does not apply to those specialists.

Management has consulted with AFSA regarding the content and form of these Precepts.


                                         Leadership Skills

                                                    Leadership Skills

               Entry-Level                                Mid-Level                                 Senior-Level
Takes initiative to go beyond assigned      Develops insights into situations and      Creates an organization-wide
tasks; identifies problems and              applies them in the workplace; devises     environment which encourages
proposes creative solutions; seeks to       innovative solutions to make               innovation; takes a long-term view
improve job and organization                organizational improvements and            and acts as a catalyst for constructive
performance.                                policy adjustments; engages staff in       change; conceives and institutes
                                            process of developing new and              organization-wide policy and program
                                            effective solutions.                       initiatives; anticipates and prepares for
                                                                                       the future.

                                               Decision Making and Judgment
Identifies issues within context of own     Makes reasoned, effective, and timely      Integrates policy and administrative
job which require decisions or other        decisions after considering all relevant   factors into problem solving and
action; arrives at recommendations in       factors and options, even when data        decision making in a manner
a logical, orderly manner; acts             are limited or conflicting or will         enhancing the entire organization;
confidently and decisively within own       produce unpleasant consequences;           actively works to achieve
purview, consulting others as               implements decisions and evaluates         Department’s goals and objectives;
appropriate; is sensitive to needs and      their impact and implications, making      encourages staff to accept
opinions of others. Displays good           adjustments as needed. Determines          responsibility. Demonstrates good
judgment by discerning what is              whether and how to make decisions          judgment in all decisions.
appropriate, practical, and realistic in    or take action without senior-level
the performance of official duties.         review displaying good judgment in
                                            making those decisions.
                                                         Team Building1
Applies what he/she learns about team       Is an effective team leader, who           Is an effective team motivator and
building to be an effective team            creates an environment that facilitates    leader, who inspires staff to
member. Is open to views of others;         full participation and an open             participate and contribute; encourages
works in collaborative, inclusive,          exchange of ideas; fosters cooperation     and develops a sense of pride and
outcome-oriented manner with U.S.           and collaboration among U.S. and           cohesiveness among staff; resolves
and foreign colleagues; accepts team        foreign colleagues; motivates and          work-related problems by mobilizing
consensus.                                  guides team members toward a               team skills and resources; develops
                                            common goal. Actively develops the         and implements strategies to improve
                                            skills of subordinates, counsels them,     the workplace, morale, skills and
                                            and makes optimum use of their             achievements of team members and
                                            talents.                                   the effectiveness of the overall
                                                      Openness to Dissent
Demonstrates the intellectual integrity     Discerns when well-founded dissent is      Accords importance to well-founded
to speak openly within channels and a       justified; engages in constructive         dissent and defends its appropriate
willingness to risk criticism in order to   advocacy of policy alternatives;           expression.
voice sensible dissent. Publicly            guides staff to do the same.
supports official decisions, even when
disagreeing with them.

    Previously part of “Interpersonal Skills”
                          Community Service and Institution Building
Participates actively in outreach or        Participates actively in performance        Participates actively in “institution
“community service” activities that         evaluation decision making and              building” activities that strengthen the
contribute to employee welfare. For         resource allocation activities, e.g.,       Department as an organization. For
example, volunteers for Post or             serves on Selection Boards or on post       example, recruits for the Department,
Department programs, initiatives,           EER Review Panel; works on resource         e.g., serves as Diplomat-in-Residence
ceremonies, special events, blood and       allocation committees, e.g., Housing        or on the Board of Examiners; works
fund drives, and other activities.          Board; counsels/mentors personnel           on the Selection Boards; participates
                                            more junior in grade.                       in Department mentoring program.
                                                    Managerial Skills

              Entry-Level                                 Mid-Level                                  Senior-Level
                                                  Operational Effectiveness
Plans, organizes and directs                Completes projects and produces             Establishes effective procedures and
operations and strategies within            results in most effective manner while      controls to manage the work activities
areas of responsibility effectively;        balancing the Department’s goals and        of subordinates; encourages, develops
ensures that projects within area of        objectives and constraints of time          and rewards efforts of staff to enhance
responsibility are completed in a           and resources; critically analyzes the      their effectiveness, including their
timely, high quality and efficient          organization’s strengths and                ability to contribute to the
manner; accepts supervision and             weaknesses, and takes appropriate           achievement of the Department’s
guidance, and supports the projects of      action.                                     goals and objectives; foresees
others; provides feedback to                                                            challenges to, and opportunities for,
supervisors. Demonstrates                                                               the organization and takes steps in
commitment and moral courage by                                                         advance to deal with them.
making difficult choices, by working
with a sense of purpose, and by caring
about the results.

                                            Directing and Developing Performance
Participates in preparation of work         Establishes and clearly communicates        Establishes and clearly communicates
requirements for self and works with        broad performance expectations for          organization-wide performance
staff in preparing their work               unit; manages staff effectively to meet     expectations in accordance with the
requirements; develops plans to             those performance expectations;             Department’s goals and objectives;
accomplish work requirements; gives         monitors plans to accomplish work           inspires a high level of performance in
staff both formal and informal              requirements; delegates appropriately;      staff; ensures the professional
feedback on performance and                 creates a productive work                   development and mentoring of staff;
potential; completes employee               environment in which employees’             oversees possible improvements in
evaluations in accordance with              contributions are valued and                human resource processes; ensures
standards and deadlines.                    encouraged; works to prevent and            that the evaluation and counseling
                                            resolve personnel problems in a timely      process is conducted effectively and in
                                            manner; ensures that the evaluation         accordance with standards and
                                            process is properly conducted and that      deadlines.
                                            counseling occurs throughout the
                                            rating year; effectively selects, trains,
                                            develops and supervises employees;
                                            ensures that staff is appropriately
                                            utilized, appraised, and rewarded;
                                            develops these same skills in others.

                                                  Management of Resources
Utilizes internal controls to protect the   Ensures that effective internal controls    Evaluates adequacy of internal
integrity of the organization and           are in place and work correctly;            controls and ensures implementation
prevent waste, fraud, and                   allocates resources efficiently,            of improvements as warranted; holds
mismanagement, reporting any                equitably, and in conformity with           managers accountable for the
instances where such problems occur;        policy and regulatory guidelines;           consequences of their resource policy
uses material and financial resources       makes every effort to ensure that           decisions; seeks resource adjustments
prudently; strives to produce highest       employees have the tools needed to          as needed.
return with lowest cost.                    work effectively.

                                               Customer Service2
Responds professionally, courteously Balances competing and sometimes               At the organization level, encourages
and competently to both internal and conflicting interests of a variety of          customer-oriented focus; maintains or
external customers.                  customers; anticipates and responds            improves services organization- wide.
                                     appropriately to customer needs.
                            Support for Equal Employment Opportunity and Merit Principles
Takes diversity training and applies its Manages diversity by recruiting           Fosters an organization-wide
principles to the workplace; treats all   diverse staff at all levels and ensuring environment in which diversity is
individuals with respect and without      staff diversity training and awareness.  valued and respected; encourages the
regard to race, color, gender, religion,  Promotes diversity awareness through organization to realize the full
national origin, age, disability, marital training; ensures by example and         potential of a diverse staff; provides
status, or sexual orientation; acts in    instruction, and verifies through        personal leadership and vigorous
compliance with USG and Department monitoring and follow-up, that all              support for EEO, merit principles, and
EEO policies.                             employees are treated with fairness      fair employment practices;
                                          and respect; applies EEO and merit       recognizes that diversity within the
                                          principles consistently; identifies and  workplace is a strategic advantage
                                          addresses situations giving rise to      and acts accordingly.
                                          complaints and grievances based on
                                          issues of fairness in the workplace.
        Security, including Management of Sensitive and Classified Material, Information and Infrastructure
Practices good personal, information,     Encourages the practice of good          Promotes the practice of good
and physical security. Takes full         personal, information, and physical      personal, information, and physical
responsibility for handling and           security measures and serves as a        security measures by employees.
safeguarding sensitive and classified     model for others. Takes full             Takes full responsibility for handling
material, information, and                responsibility for handling and          and safeguarding sensitive and
infrastructure properly. Has              safeguarding sensitive and classified    classified material, information and
knowledge of security threats,            material, information, and               infrastructure properly; promotes
responsibilities, procedures,             infrastructure properly; ensures that    security consciousness on an
regulations and issues.                   effective procedures are in place to     organization-wide basis; evaluates and
                                          protect sensitive and classified         monitors procedures to safeguard
                                          material, information and                sensitive and classified material,
                                          infrastructure and that established      information, and infrastructure and
                                          security regulations are being           ensures that necessary changes are
                                          followed.                                made if current procedures are
                                                                                   inadequate; holds managers
                                                                                   accountable for the consequences of
                                                                                   their security policy decisions.
                                                 Crisis Management Skills
Possesses appropriate knowledge of
                                                                                    Performs crisis management and risk
short-term (emergency) management           Performs crisis management for the
                                                                                    management for the entire
and long-term (business continuity)         area of responsibility, including the
                                                                                    organizational unit; sets the tone for
management responses to crises,             development of preventative (risk
                                                                                    the importance of crisis management
incidents or other serious situations       management) plans; and develops
                                                                                    for the unit; and seeks to reduce the
and when appropriate may                    awareness and skill in crisis
                                                                                    need for crisis management if
participate in the development of           management among the staff.
plans to respond to such incidents.

    Previously part of “Interpersonal Skills”

                                                   Interpersonal Skills

              Entry-Level                                  Mid-Level                              Senior-Level
                                                   Professional Standards
Holds self accountable for rules and         Holds others accountable for rules       Sets the standard for integrity and
responsibilities; is dependable and          and responsibilities; consistently       workplace behavior by example and
conscientious; is composed,                  maintains equanimity and a               instruction; does not lose composure
professional, and productive, even in        professional demeanor; maintains         under stress or in crisis; fosters a
difficult conditions. Treats all with        own motivation and encourages            climate based on mutual respect and
respect.                                     others to persevere in difficult         trust.

                                                  Persuasion and Negotiation
Learns to influence others; gains            Influences others deftly; fosters        Negotiates effectively on a wide range
cooperation while showing, in the            understanding of USG/Department          of issues in internal, bilateral, and
spirit of mutual respect, understanding      views and positions and/or procedures    multilateral environments; manages
of others’ positions.                        and requirements; develops alliances     and resolves major conflicts and
                                             with others; finds common ground         disagreements in an interest-based
                                             among disparate forces and builds        manner; manifests a faculty for astute
                                             consensus; facilitates win-win           compromise without sacrificing
                                             situations.                              ultimate goals.

                                                   Workplace Perceptiveness
Demonstrates sensitivity in both             Understands and deals effectively        Navigates easily in an environment of
domestic and foreign environments to         with relationships and aspirations;      shifting relationships; anticipates
status, protocol, and chain of               anticipates how others will react;       socially sensitive issues and potential
command; responds considerately to           frames own responses to achieve          conflicts of interest and takes
the needs, feelings, and capabilities of     results.                                 appropriate action.
others; shows respect for cultural


                                                                                      Anticipates the need for change;
                                             Guides staff in adjusting to change;
Adapts behavior and work methods as                                                   weighs risks; creates proactive plans
                                             models and reinforces flexibility in
needed in response to new                                                             to deal with change that reduces any
                                             the staff; manages risk and
information, changing conditions,                                                     negative impact on the unit; uses
                                             uncertainty; seeks to reduce any
preferences of other people, or                                                       change to improve the effectiveness
                                             negative impact of change on the
unexpected obstacles; and displays                                                    of the unit and its members; and
                                             organization; and maintains own
sensitivity to cultural differences.                                                  exercises sophisticated cultural
                                             standards and identity despite change.
                                                                                      sensitivity in all circumstances.

                                    Relationship Building and Representational Skills 3
Establishes and maintains purposeful        Identifies and cultivates professional Moves with ease at all social settings
and productive relationships with           relationships with key individuals and and levels; cultivates professional
domestic and foreign contacts;              institutions; advances USG interests   relationship with audiences
interacts effectively in official and       through hosting and attending          important to U.S. interests;
social encounters; attends and hosts        representational events.               frequently hosts representational
representational events to promote                                                 events at most senior levels of
relationships and understanding with                                               society.
host country officials and when
appropriate, hosts such events.

    Previously part of “Leadership Skills”
                               Communication and Foreign Language Skills

             Entry-Level                                 Mid-Level                             Senior-Level
                                               Written Communication
Writes succinctly; produces written      Writes clearly and persuasively;           Exhibits full mastery of written
materials that are thorough; conveys     ensures that policy and operational        communication; shows
analysis that highlights essential       issues are articulated in ways most        sophisticated ability to analyze,
points and clearly explains essence of   helpful to the intended audience;          synthesize, and advocate in a timely
subject to the intended audience --      assists staff to develop effective         manner; edits others’ texts
whether mission management or            writing skills.                            judiciously.
senior Department official.

                                                Oral Communication
Speaks in a concise, effective, and      Speaks authoritatively to all              Effectively argues complex policy
organized manner, tailored to the        audiences, demonstrating                   issues; deals comfortably with the
audience and the situation; speaks       comprehensive understanding of             most senior levels of government
convincingly in groups and in            issues and options; articulates policy     and society.
individual discussion.                   goals persuasively; fosters an
                                         atmosphere of open communication
                                         and exchange of ideas.

                                                   Active Listening
Listens attentively; understands and     Instills trust in others which motivates   Adeptly discerns the innermost
absorbs others’ messages; correctly      them to speak openly and candidly;         meanings and nuances of messages
reads nonverbal signals; summarizes      understands and respects cultural          that others convey.
others’ views accurately and confirms    sensitivities and constraints in
accuracy of understanding; considers     discussing issues and opinions; asks
and responds respectfully and            open-ended, incisive questions to
appropriately.                           ensure accuracy of understanding.

                                                   Public Outreach
Develops public speaking and writing     Seizes and creates opportunities to      Deals comfortably with the media;
skills by seeking appropriate            advocate U.S. perspective to a variety   is active and effective in public
opportunities to present U.S. views      of audiences. Actively develops the      diplomacy, both in the U.S. and
and perspectives.                        skills of subordinates.                  overseas. Contributes to and
                                                                                  implements strategies to encourage
                                                                                  a fair hearing for U.S. views and
                            Foreign Language Skill (Generalists; Specialists as applicable)
Meets language probation                Attains general professional              Maintains and/or further develops
requirements; uses foreign language     proficiency* in at least one foreign      proficiency in foreign language(s);
skills to enhance job performance;      language, strives to acquire advanced     uses skill to promote U.S. interests
seeks to improve foreign language       level proficiency and/or general          with a wide range of audiences,
skills.                                 professional proficiency in additional    including the media.
                                        languages; uses that skill effectively to
                                        communicate USG themes and
                                        exercise influence; works to increase
                                        foreign language ability.

                                         *Generalists, to cross senior threshold,
                                         must attain S/3-R/3 (i.e., general
                                         professional proficiency) in one

                                                  Intellectual Skills

             Entry-Level                                  Mid-Level                              Senior-Level
                                          Information Gathering and Analysis
Locates, evaluates, and quickly           Has a sophisticated understanding of       Integrates fully a wide range of
assimilates key information;              sources and their reliability; knows       information and prior experiences in
reorganizes information logically to      what to report and when; accepts that      policy making; ensures that staff
maximize its practical utility and        it may not be possible to base             search out and evaluate information
identify key underlying factors;          recommendations, decisions, or             before making recommendations and
recognizes when additional                actions on comprehensive                   decisions; recognizes situations in
information is required and responds      information; considers downstream          which information and analysis are
accordingly; considers a variety of       consequences; guides and motivates         incomplete, and responds wisely;
sources, cross-checking when              staff to refine their own analytical       accepts accountability for self and
appropriate.                              skills.                                    insists on it for staff.

                                                     Critical Thinking
Identifies key information, central       Isolates key points, central issues, and   Analyzes and defines complex policy
issues, and common themes; identifies     common themes in a mass of complex         issues clearly, in terms which permit
the strengths and weaknesses of           information or procedures; can             them to be dealt with in a practical
various approaches; outlines realistic    determine the best solution or action      way; encourages staff to analyze
options; distinguishes fact from          from a range of options; is objective in   situations and propose options, giving
opinion and relevant from irrelevant      analyzing problems and judging             constructive and instructive feedback;
information.                              people.                                    correctly senses when it is appropriate
                                                                                     to take risks, and does so.

                                  Professional Development, including Active Learning
Seeks out new job-related knowledge       Develops own knowledge through        Anticipates the need for new
and readily grasps its implications for   broadening experiences, whether       information or knowledge for self and
the workplace; seeks informal             work-related, academic studies, or    others; identifies sources of new
feedback and learns from mistakes;        other type of professional            information; communicates these
recognizes own strengths and              development; applies the principles   sources to staff and facilitates access;
weaknesses and pursues self-              learned on the job and encourages     actively promotes professional
development.                              and supports professional             development at the organizational
                                          development among subordinates;       unit level; applies principles to foster
                                          provides informal feedback to         organizational improvements, and
                                          colleagues and seeks feedback on own promotes a workplace supportive of
                                          performance.                          continuous professional development.

                                         Leadership and Management Training
Learns basic principles of effective      Uses training opportunities to improve     Actively promotes leadership and
leadership and management. Pursues        personal leadership and management         management training at the
formal and informal training              skills and to keep abreast of current      organizational unit level; applies
opportunities.                            theory and techniques. Applies the         principles of leadership and
                                          principles learned at FSI and other        management training to foster
                                          relevant courses on the job, e.g. by       organizational improvements.
                                          developing subordinates.


                                              Substantive Knowledge

             Entry-Level                                 Mid-Level                              Senior-Level
                                                     Job Information
Develops and applies knowledge            Has broad knowledge of job-related        Integrates thorough knowledge of
needed in current assignment; learns      processes and practices; remains          issues arising in job to formulate and
factors which impact work;                current on policies, programs, and        implement policies and programs;
understands how job relates to            trends that affect the organization;      monitors internal and external sources
organizational goals and U.S. policy      analyzes the interplay of forces          for information and ideas; uses job
objectives. Uses FSI and other            influencing the achievement of policy     knowledge to shape outcomes.
training to improve individual            and program objectives and makes          Utilizes FSI training to raise level of
performance.                              reasonable recommendations. Uses          organizational unit performance.
                                          training and other means to improve       Creates an environment and strategies
                                          programs. Supports continuous             to support professional development
                                          learning of employees through both        both through training and work
                                          training and work opportunities.          opportunities.

                                                 Institutional Knowledge
Understands the roles and authorities     Proactively applies knowledge of          Uses sophisticated understanding of
of both the Department and other          other USG Agencies and institutional      other USG Agencies and institutional
USG agencies and how they affect          realities to advance effectively State    realities to advance effectively USG
the Department. Applies that              Department goals; operates on an          foreign policy objectives; develops
knowledge and the institutional           equal footing with officials in other     those same skills in subordinates.
realities it imposes to develop           bureaus, foreign governments,             Promotes interagency cooperation
interagency cooperation to get tasks      business communities, academia, and       with a wide variety of senior USG
accomplished.                             media; develops these same skills in      officials to achieve the Department’s
                                          subordinates.                             foreign policy objectives.

                                                      Technical Skills
Learns and uses technical skills and      Continuously enhances own and             Promotes own and staff’s full
technology as appropriate in setting of   staff’s understanding of work-related     utilization of technical skills and
job; understands the impact of            technical skills and technology and       technology to achieve bureau/mission
technology on the workplace; seeks        their applications; advances policy and   goals; devises efficient and cost-
ways to use technology to enhance         program goals through the use of          effective strategies to integrate
performance.                              available and appropriate technology.     technology into the workplace.

                                                  Professional Expertise
Understands and applies Department        Strives to deepen understanding of the    Combines mastery of U.S. policy
of State procedures, requirements,        Department of State and of the            objectives and knowledge of foreign
regulations, and policies; assimilates    Foreign Service as a profession; uses     environments to advance U.S.G.
Department of State and Foreign           expertise to evaluate policies and        goals; assists staff to develop Foreign
Service milieu; builds knowledge of       programs and to advise and develop        Service skills and expertise, promoting
U.S. and foreign environments; uses       others; is able to operate                a work environment that enhances
developing expertise in work              independently to further                  their professional development.
situations.                               bureau/mission objectives.

                                             Knowledge of Foreign Cultures
Develops and demonstrates                 Has sophisticated grasp of foreign        Uses thorough knowledge of foreign
knowledge of foreign cultures, values,    political, economic, cultural, and        environments to identify and seize
and norms; appropriately applies          information environments; relates         opportunities to advance U.S.G. goals.
foreign perspective to domestic           knowledge to fulfillment of               Develops subordinates’ understanding
assignments and host country              bureau/mission goals.                     of how best to advance U.S. interests
perspective to assignments abroad.                                                  in a foreign environment.


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