ECQ Example Leading People

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This Leading People ECQ has been modified and is only a partial story. Each SES candidate has a different story to tell with diverse competencies explaining their individual executive leadership characteristics.

I have been supervising and managing staff for more than 36 years, thriving at the GS-15 level since 2005, and have confidently led diverse groups of up to 235 personnel. As the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) Chief, Policy, Development Division, I inherited a dysfunctional and demoralized team. The agency was in desperate need of a responsive Policy Office, and there was a leadership vacuum that had grown from the previous two years since the former Division Chief retired and the group was left to fend for itself with no real direction. The team was dysfunctional because the team members lacked the skills to truly perform the duties they were assigned, there was no diversity on the team, and simple requests for policy interpretations that traditionally took two to three weeks to provide were taking three to four months for release (if they were released at all). Managers, supervisors, and employees had no confidence in the policy guidance the division provided, and morale was at an all-time low because the team realized it was being devalued. I was determined to create a knowledgeable, responsive, customer-focused team that could respond to a department with more than 20,000 employees geographically separated around the world, including approximately 250 Human Resources (HR) specialists.

ECQ Example Leading PeopleI began by reviewing the personnel records of all team members to determine their strengths and weaknesses as documented in their performance records, resumes, and training documents. The team initially consisted of six female members and all but one was relatively new to the federal government. Fully supportive of diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), I recruited another seasoned female HR veteran, a male with specialized skills the team needed, and a student who was inexperienced but promising and eager to learn in order to enhance the team. I then met one-on-one with all members of the team, actively listened to their personal goals and aspirations, and helped them to map out their five-year career goals. I also initiated weekly team meetings to clarify my expectations, maintain accountability, foster open communications, solicit team members’ ideas, and create a safe environment in which success and mistakes alike could be seen as opportunities for improvement. I rewarded team members for their performance and contributions to the team and took appropriate corrective action, as needed, to address performance or conflict issues among team members.

Not only was I focused on strengthening the overall team and creating a sense of shared goals, but I also discovered that the team was constantly challenged due to a lack of individual knowledge and specialized training. I quickly identified the strongest and weakest members of the team in terms of knowledge base, then paired them up to bridge competency gaps and promote cross-training and development. I established…

This Leading People goes on to describe solutions implemented and how employee morale and training resulted in the staff becoming a cohesive team. More of the story describes how conflict was managed and as a result of how this executive became personally engaged and demonstrated proactive leadership. The result was within six months a peak-performing Policy Office team became, respected, and relevant in meeting the challenges head on. These actions were recognized by the Chairman of the agency and OPM.

Why This Leading Change Example Works

Hiring managers have high expectations for SES candidates. Each ECQ in an application needs to show the candidate’s qualifications while maintaining attention and showing personality. Here are a few of the qualities that make this Leading Change ECQ example so strong:

  • Specific Detail: This example uses specific details to convey a familiarity with the situation and highlight concrete results. The ECQ provides every step of the problem-solving process and even gives specific data, such as the 55 percent reduction in errors.
  • CCAR Formula: All ECQs must follow a Challenge-Context-Action-Result (CCAR) formula. This example follows the formula clearly. It sets up the problem, explains the candidate’s plan to address the issue, lists the specific actions the candidate took and shows the concrete results of the change. SES Resume Writers ensure our clients’ essays follow this effective format.
  • Personal Engagement: This example also shows personal engagement with the challenge. By explaining the thought processes that influenced the candidate’s actions, the essay shows hiring managers that the candidate has the cognitive and social skills necessary to repeat the process and lead similar change within the SES.

In addition to the candidate’s personal experience leading change, the above writing strategies make this ECQ example highly effective. Though every SES applicant will have different skills that qualify them for the job, powerfully written ECQs help those qualifications stand out.

SES Resume Writers has helped more than 58,000 clients with career services. Contact us to learn more about writing effective ECQ essays.


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Page Updated February 25, 2020