OPM's Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Certificate Program

The Office of Personnel Management's LEAD Certificate Program empowers Federal leaders to take charge of their professional development by providing a clear path to leadership training that's right for them and their careers. The LEAD Certificate Program offers "must-have" leadership skills that help individuals fulfill their Individual Development Plan (IDP), putting them squarely on the path to career advancement. By training tomorrow's leaders today, the LEAD Certificate Program helps training officers, managers and supervisors meet the challenge of succession management.  At each Certificate level, current and future Federal leaders assess their leadership effectiveness, gain core knowledge and develop critical skills for leadership success, culminating with a certificate signed by the Director of OPM, formally recognizing the employee's achievement. 

Get more information on using VA Educational Benefits towards a LEAD CertiicateThe LEAD Certificate Program has also been approved by the Department of Veteran's Affairs for educational benefits as a non-college degree program. Interested?  Click here for more information.

The Value of an OPM LEAD Certificate

How You Benefit

  • Professional development directly relevant to your current position and future goals
  • OPM-designed curriculum aligned with Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs); leadership criteria that are recognized government-wide
  • Simplified process for fulfilling Individual Development Plan (IDP); providing the "must-haves" of leadership training
  • Flexibility to develop valuable new skills around your schedule
  • Document evidence of your leadership development
  • Eligibility of many LEAD courses for college or graduate credit granted by the American Council on Education (ACE)

How Your Agency Benefits

  • Clear progression to support succession management
  • Networking and sharing of best practices among agencies
  • Key staff have hands-on experience with ideas, techniques and information in an inter-agency collaborative learning environment
  • Ideal for fulfilling training requirements for Presidential Management Fellows
  • Ease of government-to-government interagency agreements
  • Courses are offered at the Center for Leadership Development locations in Shepherdstown, WV (Eastern Management Development Center); Aurora, CO (Western Management Development Center); Charlottesville, VA (Federal Executive Institute); and locations throughout U.S. and internationally

Interested? Research the course dates and prices and/or contact the LEAD Certificate Program Manager: Kim Kinley at LEAD@opm.gov or 304-870-8014 to get started!

Questions you may have: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How the LEAD Program Works

LEAD takes the guesswork out of professional development. You only need to complete five courses to earn your certificate, and because each course in the LEAD curriculum is carefully selected from OPM's catalog of top-quality leadership courses, every course you take will be directly relevant to your current abilities and future goals.

OPM created LEAD with busy Federal professionals in mind, giving you the option to decide what courses to take and when. You can choose from a variety of targeted courses within each leadership track, and you will have three years to complete your certificate.

 At each level of development, rising Federal leaders will participate in content rich courses that provide:

  • Assessments of current leadership effectiveness and/or potential
  • Overviews of key competencies critical to successful at each level of leadership
  • Essential knowledge of government-wide policy 
  • Intensive development of workplace relevant skills

Outcomes of the LEAD Certificate Program 

  1. Documents and honors those that put in the effort to be a better leader
  2. Ensures all leadership training is directly relevant to Government application
  3. Clarifies which leadership training is most critical for success; it provides a "short list" for use by employees and training managers to help focus employee development

Five Leadership Levels - One Great Career Move

The five levels of leadership in the LEAD Certificate Program are:

  • Project/Team Lead
  • Supervisor
  • Manager
  • Executive (SES level)
  • Professional Leader

What are the rules for the LEAD Certificate Program?

  1. LEAD Certificates are issued for a specific level of leadership.
  2. For a given level, you must complete the required number of courses in EACH column of the table below, which will result in a total of 5 courses to be completed for each LEAD Certificate level.
  3. The last of the 5 courses must be completed within 3 years of the start date of the first courses taken.
  4. It is recommended, but not required, to complete the Assessment and Core courses first, before taking the Policy and Skill categories.
  5. You may earn a LEAD Certificate for a level of leadership, even if you are not at that level, but we strongly recommend checking with your training manager to see whether your agency has any specific rules regarding taking courses for a higher level than your current position.

How do I get a LEAD Certificate?

  1. The LEAD Certificate Program is a self-paced program, which means OPM is not formally involved until you complete the 5 required courses for a given level of Leadership. This also means you register for each course individually as you progress through the program.
  2. Within 90 days of completing the last of the five courses at a given level, you must email a list of your five completed courses with the start dates to validate completion within the three year period to the OPM LEAD Certificate Program Manager at LEAD@opm.gov.
  3. Once validated, you will have 90 days to submit a 4-6 page capstone paper (Word file) [27 KB], detailing lessons learned and describing at least one example of application back on the job.  The paper will be reviewed for Pass/Fail by an OPM Program Director/Faculty Member.
  4. Once a "Pass" rating on the capstone paper is attained, you will receive a LEAD Certificate.   

Interested? Research the course dates and prices and/or contact the LEAD Certificate Program Manager: Kim Kinley at LEAD@opm.gov or 304-870-8014 to get started!

Questions you may have: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  

The table below lists the recommended courses for each certificate level.  For your convenience each course listed is a linked directly to the course page which identifies course description, dates, locations and cost.

 LEAD Certificate by Level of Leadership Table
Required training for a LEAD Certificate at a Given Leadership Level**






Project / Team Lead

(No formal appraisal responsibility)

Take the following:

Leadership Assessment Program- Level I

Take the following

Team Development: Team Building and Team Leadership - Blended

None Required

Choose Any Three:


(Conducts performance appraisals for non-supervisory staff)

Take one of the following:

Take both:

None Required

Choose Any Three:


(Conducts performance appraisals for one or more supervisors and staff)

Take the following:

Leadership Assessment Program Level II

Take one of the following:

Take one of the following:

Take two of the following:


(Senior manager level)

Take one of the following:

Senior Executive Assessment Program  (GS-15)

Leadership Assessment Program Level II  (GS 14)


Take one of the following:

Take one of the following:

Take two of the following:


Professional Leader 

(Federal professionals who are not in a formal management position but who exercise influence, design and implement policy, and work in broad partnerships within and outside their agency.)

Take the following:

Leadership Assessment Program Level 1

Take the following:

Collaborative Leadership: Working with Others for Results

Choose any three from the Policy Awareness and Skill Immersion electives:

Policy Awareness

     Skill Immersion


Definitions of Terms


A course provides assessment of current leadership effectiveness and/or potential customized for each level of leadership.  OPM uses a simulation assessment for the Team Lead level; an instrument-based assessment (e.g. 360, MBTI) for the Supervisor and Manager levels; and a behavioral assessment for the Executive level


A course that provides an overview for the key competencies considered critical to succeed at each level of leadership, as well as opportunities to develop those competencies

Policy Awareness

A course that provides essential policy knowledge that cuts across almost all Manager and Executive level positions such as budget and finance

Skill Immersion

A course that provides deep development on a specific skill or ability so that the participant can use it immediately upon returning to their agency.

Interested? Research the course dates and prices in the table above and/or contact the LEAD Certificate Program Manager: Kim Kinley at LEAD@opm.gov or 304-870-8014 to get started!

 Questions you may have:  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).