Leadership Competency Development Checklist

230 FW 6
Originating Office
National Conservation Training Center

he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has adopted the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Leadership Competency Development Model as a guide for employees to use in developing knowledge and skills to excel in their current job and prepare for future leadership roles. These 28 OPM leadership competencies are listed below. 

To assist you and your supervisor in prioritizing the most important competencies for you to develop over the next 1 to 2 years, choose the top 7 competencies (out of the 28) that you need to develop, and rank them, with 1 being the highest developmental need.

General Competency Description

More Specific Detail On This Competency


Accountability - Holds self accountable and ensures responsibilities within position description (PD) are completed according to required success criteria, including timeliness, cost, quality, and quantity. Contributes to developing and maintaining effective controls to ensure measurement and achievement of outcomes, that plans and activities are monitored and evaluated, and corrective actions are taken when necessary. 

  • Takes personal responsibility for achieving outcomes and creates measures of excellence for own work while maintaining stewardship as a civil servant.
  • Holds self accountable for high scientific, business, and ethical standards of conduct and takes personal responsibility for work, products, services, and results.

Conflict Management - Develops and sustains cooperative working relationships. Manages conflicts effectively by respectfully addressing and resolving issues and disagreements in a positive and constructive manner to minimize the negative impact of confrontations, complaints, grievances, and differences. 

  • Analyzes personal, structural, and other sources of conflict within the team or organization and plans for long-lasting, long-term improvements.
  • Engages in healthy conflict to increase or improve effectiveness of the organization in developing a better product or decision.

Continual Learning -Uses a wide variety of learning experiences to ensure individual competency in areas of PD and development for future positions. Recognizes that new skills and knowledge are needed continually to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment and responds/prepares appropriately. Realistically assesses own strengths and areas to improve. 

  • Continually seeks self-development opportunities and makes use of feedback from others to change behavior, maximize potential and productivity, and develop areas for improvement in all aspects within PD based on increased self-awareness. Accepts responsibility for mistakes and takes positive steps to improve. 

Creativity and Innovation - Develops new insights into situations. Helps to create a work environment that encourages creative thinking and innovation. Originates designs, creates and implements new solutions to make organizational improvements, and where appropriate, challenges existing processes, policies, systems, guidelines, and regulations for increased efficiencies in the Service.

  • Demonstrates and encourages creativity and innovation with responsible calculated risk taking, experimentation, learning from mistakes, and imaginative possibilities.
  • Develops and implements new and/or non-traditional programs, processes, services, and innovative solutions.
  • “Thinks outside the box.” Acts as an effective champion of new ideas.

Customer Service - Anticipates and meets the needs of both internal and external customers. Delivers high-quality products and services and is committed to continuous improvement. Has a personal commitment to serving the public and works to continuously improve products and services. Employs good customer service, consultation, and communication techniques towards both internal and external customers.

  • Understands the Agency’s diverse customer groups, their perspectives, issues, and needs.
  • Identifies and develops metrics to assess customer service satisfaction.
  • Knows and uses outreach, needs assessment, evaluation, and other marketing skills to identify and anticipate customer needs and provide exemplary customer service.

Decisiveness -Exercises good judgment by making sound, well-informed and effective decisions in a timely manner. Perceives the impact and implications of decisions. Is proactive and achievement oriented in discovering problems and issues requiring decisions. Makes sound and timely decisions necessary to carry out program requirements and determines best methods and practices.

  • Employs a wide variety of techniques to generate ideas, increased knowledge, options, and decisions while using decision-making styles that are appropriate to circumstances, including involving appropriate stakeholders.
  • Continually balances competing and/or ill-defined demands of scope, time, cost, quality, quantity, needs, and expectations.

Developing Others -Develops the knowledge, skills, and competencies of those within their area of responsibility to perform and contribute to the organization through providing ongoing feedback and opportunities to learn through formal and informal methods.

  • Develops ability of others through coaching, feedback, managing performance, and providing opportunities to learn.
  • Assesses employee knowledge and skills to determine training and development needs, and by providing direction and guidance.

Entrepreneurship - Positions the organization for future success by identifying new opportunities; builds the organization by developing or improving products or services. Takes calculated risks to accomplish organizational objectives. Is action oriented, courageous, and persistent in pursuing goals.

  • Maintains awareness of their talents, customers, and of the environment to identify potential opportunities.
  • Knows and uses analytical processes and business tools to identify and develop new products and services.
  • Builds commitment to and structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

    Learn more about structure
    for improvement of products and services.

External Awareness -Identifies and keeps current on key policies, rapidly emerging issues, resource conservation practices, laws, regulations, and the economic, political, and social trends that affect natural resources and the Service as a whole. Understands how external influences affect the organization. 

  • Solicits, understands, and anticipates the changing needs and expectations of stakeholders and remains alert to opportunities to serve them better, including seeking input from various parties to help formulate and implement strategies and/or policies.

Financial Management - Understands the organization's financial processes. Prepares, justifies, and administers the program budget. Oversees procurement and contracting to achieve desired results. Monitors expenditures and uses cost-benefit thinking to set priorities. Values and uses cost-effective approaches to accomplish work.

  • Demonstrates broad understanding of financial management and the tools that are used to maintain the financial health of an organization.
  • Prepares, justifies, and administers a budget that meets program/project needs.
  • Uses cost-benefit analysis to set priorities and make decisions on resource allocation.

Flexibility - Is open to change and new information; rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles. Adapts behavior and approaches based on changing circumstances, information, organizational priorities, or needs.

  • Is open to new ideas and opinions from others.
  • Maintains productivity, quality of work, and morale in times of change.
  • Works effectively within a variety of situations and with diverse individuals and groups.

Human Capital Management - Builds and manages a workforce based on organizational goals, budget considerations, and staffing needs. Ensures employees are appropriately recruited, selected, appraised, and rewarded; also takes action to address performance and conduct problems in the workplace. Manages a multi-sector workforce and a variety of work situations. 

  • Engages in workforce planning to the organization’s mission and strategic plan.
  • Understands and complies with Merit System Principles.
  • Understand the value of and acts to support employee-centered workplace values in building commitment to the organization and increasing productivity.
  • Invests in training and other developmental opportunities to help themselves and their employees build mission critical competencies.

Influencing/Negotiating - Develops networks and coalitions. Gains cooperation from others to obtain information and accomplish goals. Negotiates to find mutually acceptable solutions and builds consensus through compromise, collaboration, and accommodation. Uses authority and influence appropriately to gain cooperation from others to accomplish goals.

  • Uses facilitation and collaboration to build, promote, and leverage coalitions and partnerships to achieve organizational goals.
  • Recognizes and understands positions, interests, and needs of stakeholders and employs effective techniques to influence others.

Integrity / Honesty -Behaves in a fair and ethical manner towards others and demonstrates a sense of organizational responsibility and commitment to public service which instills mutual trust. Initiates and sustains action to accomplish Service goals by guiding, motivating, and gaining the confidence of others through personal integrity. 

  • Helps to create a culture that fosters high standards of ethics. 
  • Sets, demonstrates, and models high standards of honesty, respect for people, trust, integrity of organizational principles and priorities, and appropriate use of property and fiscal resources.

Interpersonal Skills -Establishes and maintains cooperative interpersonal relationships with others to accomplish the organization's mission. Considers and responds to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of others. Effectively communicates at all levels: supervisors, peers, customers, partners, and (if applicable) employees to facilitate an open exchange of ideas. Demonstrates self-understanding and emotional control and recognizes impact on others in the areas of self-management, social skills, approachability, defensiveness, and technical competencies.

  • Relates with empathy, sensitivity, and respect to individuals and groups while demonstrating awareness through recognizing self-behaviors and emotions and their effects on others. 
  • Demonstrates self-regulation through controlling or redirecting ineffective behaviors and impulses, thinks before acting, shows a propensity to suspend judgment where appropriate, and demonstrates wisdom in choice of words, actions, and behaviors.

Leveraging Diversity - Fosters an inclusive workplace where individual differences, talents, and gifts are valued and leveraged to achieve the vision and mission of the organization. Values diversity and the variety of perspectives, enhanced knowledge, and enriched creativity that it brings.

  • Develops and maintains an organizational culture that promotes teamwork, acceptance, and productivity.
  • Recognizes the value of diversity in conducting all areas of the organization’s work and in achieving goals.
  • Where applicable, develops strategies, policies, and systems to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse workforce.

Oral Communication - Makes clear and convincing oral presentations to individuals or groups at all levels, both internal and external. Listens actively and effectively and clarifies information as needed. Encourages and facilitates an open exchange of ideas and fosters an atmosphere of open communication.

  • Presents on key functions, policies, programs, and operations of the organization, including sensitive or controversial issues.
  • Effectively communicates to all levels (managers, peers, customers, partners, and employees) while exercising effective listening skills and clarifying information.

Partnering -Develops networks and builds alliances, engages in cross-functional activities and collaborates across boundaries, and finds common ground with a widening range of stakeholders to accomplish mission responsibilities. Uses contacts to build and strengthen internal support bases.

  • Proactively monitors and evaluates work being conducted and accomplished with partnerships and makes adaptive modifications where appropriate.
  • Engages in and initiates multi-agency and multi-partner projects and efforts.

Political Savvy - Ability to identify and keep current with the internal and external politics and issues that impact the work of the program or organization. Is sensitive to how people and organizations function. Anticipates the internal and external implications and ramifications of statements or actions. Considers political and organizational realities, the media, and special interests in decision making. Formulates appropriate approaches to each problem situation.

  • Understands who key internal and external stakeholders are and builds support from influential parties for organizational initiatives, including capitalizing on opportunities to publicize the organization’s programs.
  • Acts with professional dispatch and wisdom in sensitive political or media situations while balancing interests of the organization with broader organizational and Government purposes and realities.

Problem Solving - Identifies, analyzes, and solves problems. Distinguishes between real and perceived problems. Uses sound reasoning/logic to arrive at conclusions from a range of choices and/or competing viewpoints and alternatives. Finds alternative solutions to complex problems. Distinguishes between relevant and irrelevant information to make logical judgments. 

  • Helps to trouble-shoot by discovering, clarifying, and eliminating causes of problems in line with organizational mission and goals.
  • Involves stakeholders (internal and external) in solving organizational problems and develops effective alternatives and plans, implements solutions, and evaluates results.

Public Service Motivation - Anticipates and meets the needs of members of the public. Applies quality management principles and processes for delivery of high-quality products and customer service. Strives for continuous improvement as a responsible public steward. Helps to create and sustain a culture that encourages others to provide the quality of service essential to high performance. Balances interests of a variety of stakeholders. 

  • Anticipates and integrates customer needs and expectations into the service delivery process, product development, and/or accomplishments for the Service resulting in measurable improvements in customer satisfaction and engagement.
  • Seeks to improve the quality of products, processes, and services for the Service by modeling the way and fostering a culture that encourages a commitment to public service.

Resilience -Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks. Remains effective in judgment, decision making, and actions despite pressure, ambiguity, and stress. Values and uses positive coping/thriving strategies to manage stress.

  • Understands and manages situations and variables that contribute to stress arousal in self and others.
  • Understands the internal and external environment and uses that knowledge to plan strategically to overcome obstacles.

Strategic Thinking -Helps to formulate effective strategies to address organizational goals that are consistent with the Service mission and vision. Researches, interprets, analyzes, and reports on long-term customer/client trends to formulate strategy or policy. Determines objectives and sets priorities and strategies for organization and projects. Monitors/evaluates progress and outcomes of operational plans. Understands organizational strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities.

  • Identifies activities to achieve short- and long-term goals and needs, sets priorities consistent with the organization’s vision, and manages strategic planning, tactical implementation, and evaluation.
  • Is aware of current trends, opportunities, and threats to the organization’s mission and adapts/adjusts strategic policies and plans in response to change, both internal and external.

Team Building -Develops and sustains cooperative working relationships. Encourages and facilitates open communication within team environments and throughout the organization. Builds collaboration across organizational boundaries. Builds cooperation with others to obtain information, make decisions, and accomplish goals. Promotes team work at all levels to accomplish goals. Maximizes team and staff efficiency by encouraging individual and team contributions and by setting an example.

  • Balances individual perspectives, ideas, and actions with those of the team and demonstrates a willingness to subordinate own wishes to the will of the team in support of the mission
  • Achieves performance targets and business results by contributing to a learning organization environment and culture where responsible risk taking and admitting mistakes from which you can learn are encouraged.

Technical Credibility - Widely regarded throughout the field as an expert who has developed over time through education and experience and uses that background to manage and communicate the technical work of the organization to advance the mission of the Service.

  • Demonstrates technical proficiency in areas of responsibility and appropriately applies procedures, requirements, regulations, policies, and standards related to areas of expertise.
  • Demonstrates, maintains, and communicates current knowledge of concepts, facts, and principles of particular subject matter domain.

Technology Management - Keeps up-to-date on technological developments. Makes effective use of technology to achieve results. Ensures access to and security of technology systems. Understands the impact of technological changes on the organization.

  • Acquires up-to-date technology skills and maintains them.
  • Scans the environment to identify new technologies to meet organizational and customer needs.

Visioning - Based on the mission, develops a shared vision of a desirable future state with others. Takes a long-term view and acts as a catalyst for organizational change. Influences others to develop a future state for the organization. Formulates long-term goals that are consistent with key priorities and values. Sets priorities and establishes strategies for implementing vision.

  • Takes responsibility for creating a strategic vision for the organization by taking a long-term view and anticipating new/changing demands for programs and services.
  • Adapts to and champions organizational change and communicates vision to all levels in the organization that may include initiating improvements in a process, product, service, or program.

Written Communication - Expresses facts and ideas in a clear, convincing, organized, and understandable manner.  Composes, reviews, and/or edits written materials for diverse audiences. Writes clearly and succinctly in a variety of communication settings and is able to transmit messages that accurately represent desired intent for internal and external groups on key functions/policies of the organization.

  • Effectively explains or defends organizational positions, proposals, or practices and where needed, develops effective written materials to translate technical, scientific, or policy matters to non-technical audiences.
  • Communicates purpose in a succinct and organized manner, appropriate for context, time, and place.