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Senior Managers in Government

Program Session(s):
July 24, 2016 - August 12, 2016

Application Deadline(s):
May 24, 2016

Program Fee:$18,900

Applications may be submitted after the deadline and will be considered if space remains. Please contact the program director for additional information.

Program fee includes: tuition, housing, curricular materials, and most meals.

Because time required to obtain a visa can be lengthy, we encourage applicants to apply at least 12 weeks before the program start date.

Click here to see this program’s Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) alignment.

Faculty Chair: Roger Porter

Program Director: Horace Ling

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"The Senior Managers in Government program provided the opportunity to study leadership styles, behaviors and strategies used for successful implementation of multiple government missions. My classmates were leaders from around the world and we found that we share many of the same challenges. Today we have a world wide support network to go along with what we learned in the classroom at the Kennedy School. The experience was truly unforgettable and will be a program that my organization will send our Senior Managers to in the future.

-Pamela Whitley, Deputy Assistant Administrator for NextGen, Federal Aviation Administration, SMG 2014


A constantly changing world requires flexible and innovative leaders. Today’s senior managers in government face a variety of complex challenges, ranging from the effects of globalization to quantum leaps in information technology. Successful performance in this dynamic context demands skill, insight, and an ever-expanding range of talents and tools. 

The Senior Managers in Government (SMG) program provides senior executives in the federal government, other national governments, and international organizations with the cutting-edge skills necessary to thrive. Participants from across the world come together with expert Harvard faculty for intensive sessions that enhance the core leadership skills needed to address public sector concerns within large organizations.

The course focuses on the multi-dimensional issues faced by senior managers including:

  • Policy development: Structuring a decision-making process that draws on knowledge from all parts of an organization and designing policies to optimize implementation.
  • Political strategy: Mobilizing the support of key parties in an environment of shared responsibility to build support for a policy.
  • Performance management: Defining, assessing, and improving organizational performance.
  • Organizational design: Building authority and communication structures to optimize performance in an organization.
  • Negotiation: Creating win-win outcomes, resolving differences, and breaking stalemates.
  • Leadership: Evaluating and improving leadership styles, including leadership in crisis situations.

"The Senior Managers in Government (SMG) curriculum at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) was one of the most thought-provoking and career-altering educational opportunities that I've attended during my federal government career. The background and relevant experience of each of the professors added to the heightened learning environment and provoked in-depth discussions that proved to alter long held opinions on numerous topics. Of all the great experiences, and there were many, the highlight of my time at HKS was to have the chance to engage with peers from around the world on real-time issues and concerns, despite the government each represented. The lasting friendships established that will perhaps play into future professional interaction, were only made possible by having the luxury of time to truly interact with each other."

-Sharon Flowers, Deputy Director Commercial Imagery, Data & Programs National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, SMG 2009


“One of the highlights of my professional career was the opportunity to attend the SMG program. For three weeks, we were immersed in practicing negotiation, strategic thinking, interpersonal relations – every dimension of being a senior executive. We were given a unique opportunity to step outside of our daily lives to truly think about leadership and study what make leaders succeed and fail. My SMG colleagues inspired me with their intelligence and dedication; they taught me with their generosity and openness and left a lasting and valuable experience that I will not forget.”

-Peggy Philbin, Executive Director, U.S. Department of State, SMG 1998


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