What are the Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) Fundamental Competencies?

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) are the foundation of the Senior Executive Service (SES). Applicants must prove their executive experience in the context of these requirements. Each ECQ has specific competencies that must be addressed to fully meet the requirements of each. There are a total of 22 competencies identified for each individual ECQ.

The ECQs include Leading People, Leading Change, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions.

There are also six competencies fundamental to the entire spectrum of ECQs; basic requirements that intersect each of the ECQs and create the foundation for the core qualifications. These competencies, or attributes, are based on extensive research done both in the private and government sectors.

These are known as the Fundamental Competencies.

Fundamental as they are inherent and are the very foundation for each of the five ECQs. The Fundamental Competencies are basic skills that should not only be present in every executive but are also foundational in anyone who aspires to any federal agency or organization.

In other words, without these fundamentals, failure is inevitable. Following are the six fundamental competencies:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Oral Communication
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Written Communication
  • Continual Learning
  • Public Service Motivation

We will discuss these in a little more detail shortly. But first, let’s touch briefly on the ECQs so we can then understand the Fundamental Competencies and why they are so critical to success.

First, the five ECQs and a brief explanation:

1. Leading Change

This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. This ECQ requires the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

2. Leading People

This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. This ECQ requires the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

3. Results Driven

This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. This ECQ requires the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.

4. Business Acumen

This core qualification requires the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.

5. Building Coalitions

This core qualification requires the ability to build coalitions internally and with other federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.

For a complete list of the specific competencies associated with each individual ECQ, click here.

Fundamental Competencies

These are the personal and professional attributes that are critical to successful performance in the Senior Executive Service (SES). The Fundamental Competencies are the attributes that serve as the foundation for each of the Executive Core Qualifications. Experience and training that strengthen and demonstrate the competencies will enhance a candidate’s overall qualifications for the SES.

Interpersonal Skills — Treats others with courtesy, sensitivity, and respect. Considers and responds appropriately to the needs and feelings of different people in different situations.

Oral Communication — Makes clear and convincing oral presentations. Listens effectively; clarifies information as needed.

Integrity/Honesty — Behaves in an honest, fair, and ethical manner; shows consistency in words and actions; and models high standards of ethics.

Written Communication — Writes in a clear, concise, organized, and convincing manner for the intended audience.

Continual Learning — Assesses and recognizes own strengths and weaknesses; pursues self-development.

Public Service Motivation — Shows a commitment to serve the public. Ensures that actions meet public needs; aligns organizational objectives and practices with public interests.

Bottom Line

If you’re familiar with the Senior Executive Service or actively pursuing a position in the SES, then you know (or you should know) all about Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) and the competencies that complement each. You also need to be familiar with and possess each of the Fundamental Competencies, which are essential to each of the required ECQs.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, then speak to a professional. SES Resume Writers and Master Federal Career Advisors are available to answer your questions and get you headed in the right direction. Click here to get started.

(Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Guide to Senior Executive Service Qualifications; OPM.gov—Senior Executive Service)