The inter-ministerial program for the senior civil servants was established in 1987 and continued for 28 years as a partnership between the Civil Service Commission of the government of Israel and the JDC-Israel Institute for Leadership and Governance (Elka). The program strove to enrich the knowledge of participants, deepen their systemic perspective, strengthen their managerial and leadership skills, and promote professional ties among them.
Over the years, some 500 senior civil servants, at the level of deputy director-generals and division directors participated. For many years, it was the only comprehensive inter-ministerial program of its kind. The program came to an end with the decision of the Civil Service Commission to establish the National Academy of Leadership, Governance and Management as part of a broader reform of the civil service. The program's activities are to be implemented through the Academy, which was opened in 2016.
The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute was asked to conduct a broad review of the program over its 28 years. An on-line questionnaire was sent out to graduates of the last five cohorts. In addition, semi-structured in-depth interviews were held with nine key figures from the Civil Service Commission and from the Institute (Elka).
Over the years, there was a process of ongoing learning and more and more interactive and experiential learning methods were developed.
The graduates report that the program had a considerable impact on their work, for most of the measures that were examined.
They reported that the program contributed to their sense of self-efficacy and to their subsequent careers and functioning in the civil service in a number of ways. They cited a major contribution to developing knowledge and concepts directly relevant to their work. The program also strengthened their applied knowledge and skills, but to a lesser degree.
Over the years, the emphasis was shifted from conceptual knowledge to an emphasis on developing leadership skills related to introducing systemic change, and promoting collaboration. In this regard, another important strength of the program was its contribution to developing professional ties within the civil service that were maintained after graduation. More than a quarter of the respondents were able to provide at least one example of a joint topic or project that they had promoted together with other graduates.
The experience of implementing this program over the years has contributed in a number of ways to the design of the newly initiated National Academy of Leadership, Governance and Management, which, in many senses, is its successor. It was emphasized that the academy will have the additional advantage of addressing leadership development in the context of the overall efforts to reform management practices in the civil service.
The study was commissioned and funded by the JDC-Israel Institute for Leadership and Governance (Elka).
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