May 10, 2013

The FBI and Leadership

Part 2: Character, Courage, Competence, and Collaboration

Janet Kamerman, executive assistant director of our Human Resources Branch, is a principal architect of the Bureau’s Leadership Development Program.

Part 2 of an interview with Janet Kamerman, executive assistant director of our Human Resources Branch, about the FBI’s leadership program.

Q: The basis of the FBI’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) is a leadership doctrine. How was that doctrine created?

Ms. Kamerman: The FBI’s leadership doctrine, consisting of what we call the four C’s—character, courage, competence, and collaboration—was developed by FBI employees through a series of workshops. The goal was to capture what our employees value in their leaders with an accountability aspect to it.

Q: Can anybody be a leader?

Ms. Kamerman: I believe leadership skills can absolutely be learned, and everybody can improve. We often say there is no finish line in leadership—it’s a journey, and you have to keep learning and developing. While we hire people with previous leadership experience, we believe our programs can improve everyone’s leadership skills.

Q: You have been instrumental in establishing and implementing the Bureau’s leadership program. How did you become so passionate about this subject?

Ms. Kamerman: I think it probably stems from my time in the military and how leadership is embedded into the very fabric of military culture—from the very first day of service. Historically, this has not been the case in the Bureau. I recognized through my various assignments and conversations with hundreds of employees how much more effective the FBI would be if we had a comprehensive leadership development program. I was fortunate enough to be in a position to implement such a program.

Q: What do you personally look for when selecting members of your leadership team?

Ms. Kamerman: I often get asked that question. Through the years, the people that I absolutely loved working with all had three similar qualities. They were team players, they took initiative, and they made everyone else around them look better. Anyone can measure themselves against those three qualities. Leadership is not about a job title. While it is very important to get the job done, I believe what is more important is how you go about getting the job done. The reason that’s important is because how we do it ensures that we can continue to do it over time. We don’t just want to clear the hurdle. We want to get way over the hurdle with enough momentum so that the next hurdle—even if it’s higher—will not be a problem.

Q: What are your goals for the LDP in the future?

Ms. Kamerman: The programs we have in place today—classes, seminars, mentors, onboarding programs, peer support, and other resources—and the ones we will implement going forward need to continually be reviewed and updated. Our goal is to have leadership development embedded in the FBI culture at all levels—anchored deep into our promotion processes, our human resources processes, into the very structure and fabric of the Bureau.

Top HR executive Janet Kamerman talks about the importance of leadership at all levels of the organization.