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Cornerstone Program FAQs


Why do we need a DHS/USCG Leader Development Program (LDP)?

At DHS, effective leadership is a mission-essential strategy.  Establishing a Department-wide LDP enables both Department-wide consistency and mission-related Component flexibility in fostering a DHS culture of leadership effectiveness.  The LDP establishes standards and requirements to support planning, investment, implementation, evaluation, and accountability processes that will create and sustain a high-performing, diverse, engaged, and inspiring cadre of effective leaders now and into the future.   Our mission demands outstanding talent, and our outstanding talent deserves outstanding leadership.  We ask a lot of our leaders, so we must make an investment that sets them up for success.  

So, is the LDP just a fancy name for more training?

No.  In fact, the LDP isn’t really about “training.”  It goes beyond that, and starts before that.  The LDP is about ensuring that leaders at all levels, any place in the Department, are exposed to a core set of developmental experiences, leadership principles, and investments, whether they are formal supervisors or employees looking to lead in place or considering how to increase their leadership responsibilities.  The LDP not only sets standards and provides a range of optimized activities for sound leader development, but it also creates a culture that is deliberate in implementing practices that are proven to produce effective leadership talent.  It means we know you take leadership seriously, and that the Department does too.

Coast Guard already offers leadership training that is focused on our needs.  What is the point of a DHS-wide effort, when Components have such different needs?

The LDP promotes collaboration where integrated, shared, or common investments benefit DHS mission.  To be most effective, we must mature the capabilities of our workforce and our leaders to work across boundaries with each other on strategy, on the ground and on continually improving.   We know that DHS does excellent work every day – yet, consistently, headlines are made in the gaps.  Every part of DHS must invest in the quality of leaders in every other part of DHS in order to deliver on our promise to the taxpayer and our mission.  At a practical level, when leaders across the Department have common experiences and exposure to common leadership principles, and take that back to their individual settings, it helps the entire Department become better, more integrated, seamless and efficient.

Why spend more money on training, when there are so many other things we need every day?

Developing leaders before, at the beginning and during their tenure is possibly the single biggest way to support the ability of our workforce to deliver.  Good leaders can inspire and create the conditions for creativity, enhanced problem solving and increased engagement within their offices.  Leaders who have been exposed to successful strategies for leading, decision-making and achieving goals not only help the workforce do that – but also reduce the severe price that errors in judgment and inadequate exposure or resources can cost the Department – and employee morale.   Part of the purpose of the LDP is to ensure that training dollars are invested wisely, for the right things, in the right way, so that there is a return on a sound investment directly into our mission.  We all know leaders who have been to “training” and return with no discernable improvement.  The LDP not only provides a set of ideal development experiences vetted to provide the best possible return on investment, but creates an awareness and accountability for leadership performance in policy, strategy and practice, so that the actual training is only one critical part of an overall formula.

So, how is the LDP organized?

The LDP established DHS-specific Leader Development Competencies, in 5 domains:  (1) Homeland Security Discipline, (2) Solutions Capabilities, (3) Building Engagement, (4) Management Skills, and (5) Core Foundations.  These competencies support a Leader Development Framework which includes high-level roadmaps and specific developmental activities to be deployed across the Department in a phased approach, at 5 leader levels:  Team Members (all non-supervisory employees,  Team Leads (including non-supervisory Project and Program Managers),  Supervisors (first-line supervisors),  Managers (non-executive second-level supervisors), and  Executives (and equivalent Flag officers.)  You can find more information on the competencies and the Framework at DHSConnect.

Wow.  That’s a lot of buzzwords.  What does this really mean to me? I’m very busy DOING my job… is this going to impact my day in any way?

Glad you asked.  If you are a Supervisory Leader (First-line Supervisor, Manager or Executive) then yes, it will definitely help you be what you committed to be when you took on a leadership position: continuously growing, supported in learning, and able to give back to developing leadership in others.  If you are a non-supervisory employee, the Program offers some new opportunities now to consider your leadership contributions…with more to come in the future!

I’m a Supervisory Leader.  How do I know what I have to do?

As the first phase of the LDP to be developed, the Cornerstone Program is a comprehensive, baseline set of experiences that are required for all supervisors at all levels across the Department.  For each level of supervisor experience, the Program establishes specific activities or experiences that all Components must ensure are completed by their supervisors.  However, in many cases, each Component can customize how they will provide or meet the requirements in order to take advantage of existing programs, or identify new or supplemental or collaborative activities.


“L90X” Supervisory Onboarding: All new to being DHS/USCG Supervisors at ALL levels

Fundamentals of DHS Leadership:  All first time Supervisors & new to Federal supervision at ALL levels

Continuous Supervisory Leadership Development: All USCG supervisors past first year at ALL levels

As of October 1, 2012 anyone new to DHS/USCG supervision at any level (whether a seasoned transfer or a first time appointment) will complete an L90X Onboarding program, to include an interactive Orientation, Welcome Kit and Checklist, 8 hours of mentoring and other activities to start the experience off right, within the first 90 days of appointment.  

Those who are in their first-ever federal supervisory appointment at any level (whether seasoned in non-federal supervision, or whether a long-time federal employee), will complete a minimum of 40 hours (of which at least 24 must be classroom) of development covering 18 essential topics for effective leaders.  These 18 topic areas are called “Fundamentals of DHS Leadership” and while Components may use a variety of activities to meet them, all new supervisors across the Department will be assured of getting in-depth training on a common set of knowledge and skills.

For USCG supervisory leaders beyond their first year of federal supervision, they must complete 12 hours of development annually, to include performance management, and any of 6 additional competencies; specifics for how they must be completed are determined by each Component.  They also must complete 12 hours of “give-back” annually, serving as an instructor, coach, mentor, author, speaker or in some way contributing their expertise to developing others’ leadership, aside from their supervisory responsibilities.  Many supervisory leaders do this in multiple ways and never think about the valuable role they play in leader development – at DHS we want to recognize that significant effort and encourage more of it!  

Return to Leadership and Professional Development Opportunities

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Last Modified 4/7/2014