Launch of DPER Senior Civil Service Executive Leadership Development Evaluation Report conducted by NUI Galway

Pictured from left: Professor Alma McCarthy, NUI Galway; Robert Watt, Secretary General, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Dr Denise Holland, NUI Galway; and Dr Robert Coles, Roffey Park Institute.
Feb 11 2020 Posted: 11:09 GMT

Researchers from NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute were recently commissioned to evaluate the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s (DPER) Executive Leadership Development programme. The report was recently launched in Dublin Castle by Robert Watt, Secretary General of the DPER, and was conducted by NUI Galway’s Professor Alma McCarthy, Dr Denise Holland and Dr Katerina Bohle Carbonell.

The Executive Leadership Development is aimed at Senior Public Service (Assistance Secretary General) and Principal Officer grades across the Irish civil service and has been delivered to over 120 top civil service leaders. The programme is a senior talent development programme designed to assist participants in exploring different aspects and styles of leadership in order to reach the next level of their personal and professional development. The programme arises out of the Civil Service reform agenda. 

The evaluation report completed by NUI Galway drew on data collected from programme participants, their line managers and other key stakeholders. The evaluation report found that the programme had a significant positive impact on a range of senior civil service managers’ leadership skills including the ability to empower their teams, develop their change leadership skills, enhance resilience, and develop the skills required to work across the political system. 

The evaluation report also sets out a number of recommendations for the design of future executive leadership development programmes in the areas of executive coaching and post-programme networking and alumni supports to sustain and embed the learning.

Speaking about the report, Professor Alma McCarthy said: “Almost 10 years ago, I completed a study on senior civil service leadership in Ireland. I am pleased to see that the recommendations of that study were instrumental in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform designing and delivering the current executive leadership programme for its senior leaders. Our evaluation of the executive leadership programme points to the value of investment in senior leadership development across the civil service. All organisations reap the rewards of effective leadership development that results in leaders more effectively managing their people and projects to achieve Departmental and organisational goals.”

The full report can be viewed at


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