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Aspiring Directors Program

Phase 3 of the Aspiring Directors Program was delivered virtually this past year, to participants who successfully completed Phases 1 or 2 when the program was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although no new offerings of the Aspiring Directors Program are planned at this time, the School is currently exploring options for a renewed Aspiring Directors Program.


Career transition programs are vital to supporting talent management across the public service. The Aspiring Directors Program (ADP) is a guided development activity for identified candidates to reflect on the competencies that are critical to the success of executives in the federal public service. Participants will explore the importance of self-awareness and personal reflection in becoming a better leader, and examine the leadership and self-management skills needed to build teams and become an effective agent of change.

On this page

About the program

Spread over a period of six to eight months, the Aspiring Directors Program consists of three phases, two of which are classroom based and one that involves both online and on-the-job learning. Capitalizing on this blended learning approach, the Aspiring Directors Program focuses on the competencies that are critical to the success of an executive, with a particular emphasis on:

  • coaching to build capacity in one's team
  • building networks and sustainable relationships that foster engagement, innovation, and commitment to action
  • acting as an effective change agent
  • demonstrating resilience, particularly in times of stress

This unique program draws on our faculty's wealth of expertise and features exceptional guest speakers with real-world experience. With their guidance, participants will develop – and learn how to apply – the principles of leadership and self‑management needed to meet today's quickly evolving demands.


Phase 1: In class

Improve your self-awareness to become a better leader

Over the first three classroom days, participants will deepen their self-awareness of their leadership strengths, challenges and possibilities. As they start to build their peer network, they will focus on:

  • engaging in self-reflection
  • listening in a way that demonstrates a full presence
  • fostering productive conversations
  • being a leader who coaches
  • the Key Leadership Competencies required at the executive level
  • expectations of the public service executive cadre

Phase 2: On the job

And now...act on it!

This six-month phase gives participants the opportunity to apply their classroom learning back on the job, both individually and as part of a group. Where appropriate, additional assignments and online facilitated discussions will further enhance the development of the Key Leadership Competencies needed at the executive level.

Phase 3: In class

Making the transition to an executive role

In the final phase of the program, participants return to the classroom to:

  • develop an appreciation of the strategic, operational, cultural and emotional dimensions to leading change in the public service
  • acquire tips and tools for building a shared vision
  • develop an awareness of the methods to further emphasize systems thinking
  • learn about the executive selection process and how to transfer from a managerial to an executive role


To qualify, you must:

  • be at the EX-minus 1 level or its equivalent within your organization; and
  • be identified by your organization (through the talent management process) as having potential to assume an executive-level position within two years of completing the program.

We highly recommend that you also have human resources management experience. This program is not intended for participants who have taken the Direxion program, which was previously offered by the School.

How to register

There is no self-registration. You must be identified by your organization through the talent management process.

For further information on the process that has been established to identify candidates from your department/agency, please contact your Required Training Coordinator.

Frequently asked questions

Aspiring Directors Program: FAQ

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