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DRAFT 

CONCEPT FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AT THE MID-CAREER LEVEL 


CIA does not and has never had a coherent, systematic, or 
explicated leadership development program.* This is in 
contradiction to other major organizations in the private and 
public sector that have a reputation for being well-run and for 
being excellent. The Agency’s haphazard development of its future 
leaders arises from its early history, and from the nature of its 
work — compartmented , variegated, fast-moving, and reactive. The 
Agency's corporate culture puts strong stock on day to day 
performance and less on the future of individuals, or of the 
organization. How badly — or, indeed, how well— CIA has been served 
by this approach to its future leaders is not objectively 
knowable. The perspective of outsiders has not been a clear 
guide. McBer Associates and other outside management experts have 
stated- -with some reservations— that CIA has been well -led and 
well-run; some Directors and Deputy Directors have not disagreed, 
but have also thought CIA's personnel and developmental system 
flawed and in need of repair. 

*The terms "leaders, managers and executives" are used 
interchangeably in this paper for convenience. There are 
differences between leaders and managers, but those differences are 
not self-explanatory and no purpose would be served to wring-out 
the issue in this paper. 


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Perhaps the most useful perspective comes from senior CIA 
professionals themselves who profess that: 

—our SIS people are not all they should be; 

— and we should do better in developing them. 

But, at the same time, if you ask these same managers what they 
would do different, the answer seems to be not much. (See the 0TE 
monograph Executive Development in CIA dated February 1984.) This 
leads, ineluctably, to the conclusion that the shortcomings of our 
executives are not thought— by the people who are in a position to 
do something about them — to be very serious. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that earlier efforts to 
develop future leaders like the 1958 Midcareer Executive 
Development program, the Senior Seminars of the 1970s and the 
Senior Officer Development Course were severly limited in what they 
attempted to achieve, and ultimately gave way to something else. 

The premise of the following proposal, however, is that there 
is a growing undercurrent of support in the Agency for serious 
experimentation in the development of leaders. This undercurrent 
is at least viscerally related to the fact that CIA has gone 
through a great period of change, and that it faces even greater 
change in the coming years. (Not the least of which is the 
absorption, cultivation, and acculturation of great numbers of new 
employees. By the end of FY 1985 more than one out of every three 
employees would not have been with CIA in 1980 .) The undercurrent 
is part of the swelling demand for training of all kinds. It has 
found tangible expression in the recent development— for the first 


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time in the history of CIA or the Intelligence Community— of 
analyst and analyst supervisor training, in the first- time ever 
systematic look at the DS$T's developmental and training needs, and 
in the DO's recent "Looking Glass" experiment and the Directorate’s 
resulting interest in an encompassing management training program. 

It may be only slightly hyperbolic to see these stirrings, 
and our rapid people and technological change, and the "excellence 
movement, as adding up to the substantive and ideological 
foundation for a renaissance in CIA. That is, the re-flowering of 
the original idea and practice of an innovative, can-do group of 
people who know what the job is and know that they are different 
from other government servants. We should test the hyperbole. 

If our premise is that the time is right and that we should 
move ahead, our underlying bias on what is to be done is 
conservative. What follows is a program that is designed to work 
in CIA the way CIA i_s and is likely to remain, not the way rt might 
become, or some may wish it to be. To work, this program must be 
perceived to meet the current, as well as the future needs of the 
individual and the Agency. To work, this program must not demand 
that Agency managers compel their people to do things they do not 
want to do, or that the managers or their people re-think their 
priorities. This program must be seen by the participants as 
enhancing their careers and by managers as an important investment 
in their people for which they are held accountable by their 
superiors. 


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The Basic Idea 

There are definable skills and knowledge that help make 
successful managers and leaders in any organization, including 
CIA. Skills can be strengthened by training and by practice (i.e., 
experience). Some individuals have all of them in amplitude. 

Most do not. To upgrade the quality of our senior managers we must 
ensure that they have had the opportunity to work on their skills 
and to understand their inherent strengths and weaknesses well 
before they become senior managers. Also, the organization should 
have some professional insight into the the capabilities and 
potential of its leadership candidates. 

The People 

The program would be designed for the highest potential 
officers in the GS 12 - 13 range. These are the individuals that 
the Directorates believe are the best bets among their peers to 
reach leadership (i.e. SIS) positions. The idea is to get 
individuals who already have some track record of performance but 
whose elevation is not foreordained, and whose experience and age 
is such that they are still susceptible to development. Also, we 
need individuals who are, to some extent, not locked- into high 
pressure jobs from which they cannot be spared even for relatively 
short periods of time. 

We foresee taking into the program about 30 individuals each 
year. (We would probably want to start with fewer and we could in 
time push the numbers somewhat higher • ) Since we promote about 60 
new SIS officers per year (a number that is likely to grow in the 
coming years), this means that most SIS officers will not pass 
through the program. This will be comforting to those who do not 

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get into the program. It also means that the program should be 
aiming to reach those potential SIS officers who are most likely to 
rise within the SIS ranks. 

EEO 

In order to better the Agency's performance on equitably 
promoting women and minorities through the ranks to SIS positions, 
the program would take a higher proportion of women and 
minorities. The program is not for upward mobility but it would 
have an affirmative action component . We would not lower the 
program's standards, but we would enroll a higher proportion of 
women and minorities than their proportion of the GS 12 and 13 
ranks. Also, some of the training components would be specifically 
geared to help women and minorities work and compete more 
effectively in CIA. 

The Design 

The participants would remain in their current assignments , 
doing their current work, while they were in the program. The 
reasons are that CIA managers are very reluctant and usually will 
not volunteer their best people for developmental assignments that 
take them off-line, particularly for awkward periods of time (like 
three or six months. This was one of the key reasons for recent 
"executive development" failures.) Also, most ambitious Category I 
officers are reluctant to push for a developmental assignment if 
that assignment is likely to be detrimental to advancement in the 
short term . Finally, it makes more sense pedagogically and 
developmentally to work a program like this over a longer (say one 
to two years) rather than a shorter period of time. Participants 
have the opportunity to move forwards between the real world and 
their developmental experience, increasing the odds that the 

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training and development will be more meaningful, by being more 
immediately applicable. Time also increases the opportunity for 
gestation and absorption. 

Each participant would begin the program with an assessment 
of his or her psychological make-up, management and technical 
skills, and substantive knowledge. A number of assessment 
instruments are widely used in the corporate world and have been 
"validated", i.e., proven to be a good predictor of on-the-job 
performance. The main purpose of these assessments is to give the 
individual an appreciation of his or her strengths and weaknesses 
and to help the participant design a program that fits his 
particular needs. However, the assessments would also be fed back 
to the participant's home Directorate for its use in determining 
future assignments, etc. 

The program would include training or developmental 
assignments in the following areas: 

General Skills 

—writing 

--briefing 

--computer (i.e., computer literacy, VM, AIM) 

--interpersonal (Leadership Styles § Behavior, P0CM, NLP) 
--equal opportunity 

Specialized Skills 

--to be determined by sponsoring Office or Directorate. 

For example, Ops training refresher, or an intelligence 
analysis seminar. 


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Managment Skills 
— management/ supervision in CIA 
—counseling 
--analysis for managers 
— budgeting 

—leadership/styles, approaches, etc. 

CIA Exposure 

--Midcareer Course or equivalent exposure to total Agency 
-- series of one week exposures to different offices (at Chief/ 
Deputy Chief level) 

Substance 

—USSR 

—intelligence futures: impact of technology, collection and 
analytic trends 

--foreign and domestic challenges and opportunities for the 
U.S. (like AIS) 

Non-CIA Exposure 

--one/two week introduction to policy community (DOD, NSC, 
State) and Intelligence Community 
--series of one/two week exposures to policy and Intelligence 
Community 

--Brookings or other appropriate programs 


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The foregoing is not exhaustive. Nor would all students be 
equally exposed to all aspects of the program. For example, a 
participant who was an accomplished writer, would not waste time on 
strengthening writing skills. 

Incentives 


In the past, we have not built incentives into our executive 
development programs to encourage the participation of our ablest 
officers. This, too, has contributed to the failure of earlier 
efforts. Smart officers understand that there is little or no 
traditional "ticket punching" in the Agency. Hence, there has been 
no careerist reason to pursue a program of training or development 
that is not mandated for him by superiors. Indeed, as indicated 
above, they have perceived disincentives for doing so. We must 
build incentives, as well as avoid disincentives, if we are to 
succeed. 

Of the Directorates, the DO is in the best position to make 
incentives work. Its system of promotion panels and "precepts", 
i.e. written explicit criteria on which panels evaluate candidates 
for promotion, is made to order for institutionalizing a mid-career 
leadership development program. It would be relatively easy to 
build into the precepts participation in this (or other programs, 
for that matter) as a positive factor in the consideration for 
promotion. Smart officers would soon learn that to be chosen for 
the program was a mark of approval, a sign of better things to 
come, and a tangible way of helping one's promotion chances. In 
effect, we would have created a limited "ticket punching" 


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situation. Limited, because being the program would not— since we 
would only be taking in about 8 - 10 DO officers per year— be a 
sine qua non for advancement. 

The other Directorates are not structured to easily 
institutionalize such change. Deputy Directors can give orders and 
effect temporary change, but institutionalization— i.e. change that 
persists over time and under different leaders— is another matter. 

For individuals in these Directorates, the incentives should 
be more immediate and tangible. It might be possible, for example: 
--to give promotions to everybody who successfully completes 
the program (but what of people who were to be promoted 
in any event over the period of time?) 

— to give participants a QSI or cash award on completion 
—for some candidates, to arrange the next— more responsible 
and high graded position — that will be made available after 
program completion. 

In truth, a handshake and a small ceremony would probably be 
incentive enough if they were genuinely emblematic of the 
importance attended by the Directorate ( and the home career 
service) to the program and to the individuals. For most officers, 
who have been in the Agency long enough to get into the program, 
they would probably prefer cash. 


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Management 


OTE would put the program together --with the advise of the 
participating Directorates and Career Services — and manage it. The 
Director of OTE would play a key role in making the program work. 

He would: 

1) accept or reject the Directorate's nominees; 

2) certify that a participant's successful completion of the 
program has some meaning, i.e. that participants are 
held accountable for a reasonable level of performance. 

3) organize a panel of senior Agency officers and make 
continuing use of their expertise and experience 

4) mak e a recommendation to the Executive Committee on 
whether to continue the effort. To avoid continuing a 
program that is not meeting its objectives, OTE would 
end the program two years after its inception, unless the 
Executive Committee explicitly ordered its continuation . 

If the Director of OTE, in effect, must be the conscience of 
the leadership development program, the program can only do well 
if the deputy directors take a continuing strong interest in it. 
There is no way to legislate this interest, and we have tried to 
conceptualize a program that is not totally dependent on the 
enthusiasm of any deputy director. But, finally, the program is 
not worth starting unless the deputy director is committed to the 
possibility of it succeeding. 


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Connection 


This program, along with the newly started Agency-wide CT and 
"Executive Development" programs (i.e. SIS officers) would 

constitute the skeleton of an Agency career development path. 

. 

| CTS 

GS 9 - 11 

Mid-Career (GS 12 - 13) \ 

Reader ship 1 

| Executive SIS 
Leadership 

There might be a missing link between mid-career leadership and the 
SIS ranks. But this link could be made after we have had some 
experience with the other major elements. 

With this kind of program in place, we can conceive of a 
large cadre of CIA officers who have had strong ties built and 
maintained through their careers even if they have spent most of 
their professional life in one service. 

Questions 

Does it make more sense to keep people in present jobs rather than 
concentrate their training into finite period— like 3-6 months. 
Surely offices would be willing to give up GS-12 - 13s. 

Maybe, but its still likely that many GS-12 and 13s would 
consider themselves disadvantaged by being out of offices for a 
year, or, in some ways even worse, for a period like 3 or 6 
months. It is also important, psychologically, to decouple 
development and growth from "courses" and to training. 

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Why do the individuals in the program have to be the highest 
potential? Why don't we let the Directorates s end whoever they 

want? 


The assumption is that we do not have the resources to run 
large numbers o£ individuals through the program, hence the best 
way to maximize our limited resources is by being selective. Also, 
it only takes a few inappropriate candidates to undermine the 
credibility of what you're trying to do--really develop future 
managers. Of course, it is right to question whether we want to 
explicity try to develop our future leaders. 

Leadership is an art not a science and l eaders are born, not 
developed. 

Yes. But also remember that there are few if any world-class 
artists in history who have not trained assiduously. Also, 
training has enabled lesser lights to make a significant and, in 
the total, even a profound contribution to civilization. 

Think about the SIS officers you have known in CIA. If you 
can say with a true heart that most of them are natural leaders and 
managers for whom training and development would have been of 
incidental importance, then do not support this effort. 


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This proposal is not very ambitious. The GS-12 or 1 3 who c omes ou t 

of it still has not been developed as a CIA officer. What we need 

to do is to establish circumstances that ena ble individuals to 
emerge and flourish as CIA, not just c areer service, intelligence 

officers. 


Yes. But we're skeptical that anything much more ambitious 
would work at this time . The last thing we need is another paper 
exercise. The proposition here is to do something that is 
intrinsically useful, and something that has a 50/50 chance of 
working the way it is designed to. In the area of executive 
leadership, the Agency has never succeeded in doing that much. 

There is no reason why we could not build something more ambitious 
and better, having done something that works well. 

What are we doing for the great numbers o f managers in CIA— most of 
whom will not reach the SIS ranks? 

We are working on that. By the end of the year, we hope to 
have a paper that puts together all of the management training that 
is now taking place in CIA into a coherent plan. The plan will 
indicate where we are short and how we would propose to remedy the 

shortfalls. 

Can OTE deliver an excellent mid-career le adership program? 

Absolutely. But it will need help. 

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Do we have to undertake this on an Agency -wide basis? 

If you believe that we need to do better integrating and team 
building among our people, then it would be better if all 
Directorates played. But it is not a necessary condition . We 
could do it just as well for one Directorate, or even, one office. 

In fact, OTE could do it without the explicit endorsement of 
any career service. Announce the availability of the program and 
take open applications. It would be an interesting experiment. 

How expensive? 

Not sure until we work out a detailed prospectus. Keep in 
mind that many of the program components are already being 
done--just not in a systematic way for a group of individuals. 

Also, some of the most useful experiences will cost time and 
attention, but not new outlays of money. 

This sounds like an elite program. Wouldn't that be demoralizing 
and destructrive of the non-elite? 

CIA is, and ought to be, a meritocracy. We should not be 
ashamed that we reward and attempt to cultivate excellence. It is 
incumbent that we accept only the truly excellent, that we work 
them hard and hold them accountable for performance. Thus, the 
good news is that you've been nominated and accepted into the 
program and you will be rewarded for successful completion; the bad 


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news is that you are expected to live up to high standards of 
effort and performance. It should not be easy to hold a full-time 
job and to be in this program. Our elite is not guaranteed 
anything about the future. Nor will SIS ranks be filled at any 
time in the future exclusively by officers who have been through 
the program. In short, not being in the program does not exclude 
one from the future "elite". 

Summary: Executive Development at Mid-Career Level 

o start with 30 to 50 Category I GS 12 - 13 officers, 
o they stay in program for 1-2 years but remain 
on the job . 

o attempt to boost women and other minority representation 
by affirmative action in admission to program, 
o designed explicity to strengthen qualities of future 
leaders. 

o program emphasizes skills and knowledge, 
o built around career service needs, 
o Agency effort, managed by OTE. 

o program dead after two years unless explicit affirmation 
by Executive Committee or Directorates. 


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