Honing of interpersonal skills, or “soft skills,” remains an important part of career development for rising government leaders and is a higher priority for them than enhancing their data and business management skills, says a report from the Volcker Alliance, a good-government organization.

A report based in part on a survey of rising leaders said that “given the urgent focus on technology and data in workforce development circles, it may appear counterintuitive or even naive that rising leaders consider soft skills to be of greatest importance.” But instead of broad organizational and operational issues, they are “much more concerned with the everyday realities of making progress in environments shaped by scarce resources and challenged staff morale. Viewed from the rising leader’s perspective, interpersonal leadership supplies the vital energy that fuels government today.”

They identified as most valuable the professional development programs that draw on their own energy and creativity and bring them together for networked learning, “which provides opportunities for them to expand their professional circles, find fellowship, develop leadership strengths, and develop practical solutions for the problems they tackle daily.”

It said that agencies should: assist them in building and joining networks, including those outside their agencies and functional areas; develop career-stage learning rubrics to help guide career development; and broaden fellowship, mentoring and coaching programs.