Go to top of page

2. The ILS explained

The Integrated Leadership System is designed to link all aspects of leadership that impact on the APS. It balances the relationship between leadership, management and technical skills in public service careers—it is not a traditional leadership model. The System provides a common language to
support consistent whole of APS capability development. The System is designed to ensure the APS has the leadership capabilities and behaviours to meet the challenges of the future.

The System provides a basis for collaboration between the Commission and individual agencies, to support the needs of agencies and the broader APS. It applies specifically to two sections of the PS Act relating to the Commissioner's functions:

  • s 41 (1)(i) 'to co-ordinate and support APS-wide training and career development opportunities in the APS'
  • s 41 (1)(j) 'to contribute to and foster leadership in the APS'.

The System reflects the Commission's statutory functions and clarifies the respective roles of agencies and the Commission. Through the System the Commission collaborates with agencies to develop leaders capable of meeting the current and future challenges faced by the APS. It recognises the Agency
Heads' responsibilities as employers and their accountability for delivering business results.

Key elements of the System are:

  • understanding the capabilities required of APS leaders
  • developing a systemic approach to capability development
  • common descriptions of how executive and senior executive roles change in response to increasing complexity
  • behavioural indicators for the increase in role complexity
  • capability development partnerships.

The System has guides and tools to support professional development, career planning and agency bench strength or succession management including:

  • links to the Senior Executive Leadership Capability Framework
  • APS Leadership Model
  • the Leadership Pathway
  • layers of complexity
  • critical transition points
  • self-assessment tools
  • development methods and options.

The System assists agencies and individuals to build and sustain leadership capability by further establishing the SELC Framework in the APS culture. It gives a clearer understanding of the leadership capability requirements at executive and senior executive levels.

2.1 Capability development partnerships

Individual agencies are best placed to undertake capability development in the context of their own organisational issues. However, the APS Commission is in a unique position to promote interaction amongst the SES, and the feeder group for the SES, which is an important ingredient in building whole
of government capacity in the APS.[1] During 2004, national consultations with agencies supported the unique roles of both agencies and the Commission. These consultations reinforced the importance of collaboration between the Commission and agencies.

Collaboration can range from joint APS-wide activities such as the Career Development Assessment Centres to services and products tailored to an agency's needs.

This relationship is reflected in Figure 1. As a person increases in seniority and their APS focus widens, the Commission's role in their development increases—helping prepare candidates for the next level, then assisting their transition to a new level, or a new role. Economies of scale may
make the Commission particularly helpful for smaller agencies and in the regions. Therefore the Commission's role may change depending on an agency's context. This is a generic partnership model—agencies and individuals may interpret this model to suit their own needs.

Figure 1 Capability development partnerships


2.2 SELC Framework and the Integrated Leadership System

The introduction of the SELC Framework in 1999 represented the first step to creating a common understanding of the leadership capabilities required for high performance in the APS. The SELC Framework is built around five core capability clusters:

  • Shapes strategic thinking
  • Achieves results
  • Cultivates productive working relationships
  • Exemplifies personal drive and integrity
  • Communicates with influence.

In 2001 the SELC Framework was confirmed by Agency Heads as the most suitable tool for SES selection and development. The APS Commission has now expanded the SELC Framework and identified descriptions and behaviours for each capability of the SELC Framework for executive and senior executive levels.
This is the Leadership Pathway (the Pathway) and is a major component of the Integrated Leadership System. The SELC Framework remains the selection criteria for entry to the SES. The Pathway supports the development of executive and senior executive levels at different career points.


Figure 2 SELC Framework

2.3 Finding the balance

The System assists agencies and individuals to address their particular requirements for leadership, management and technical expertise.

APS leaders require a mixture of technical and management expertise as well as leadership capabilities as shown in Figure 3. The precise balance will depend on the level of seniority of the individual. For example, a policy advisor requires subject matter expertise, skills in administration, communication
and relationships to ensure the advice takes account of stakeholders and can be implemented in practice. People in service delivery agencies need technical expertise as well as management and leadership capabilities in dealing with clients and stakeholders.

The following pages give some examples of leadership, managerial and technical components taken from the Leadership Pathway tool in Section 3. The particular mix of capabilities will vary depending on the agency, and the level and/or role of the person.

Figure 3 APS Leadership Model

The leadership component

The leadership component requires capabilities from all five capability clusters. However, there is a strong focus in Shapes
strategic thinking, Achieves results
and Cultivates productive working
, as can be seen in the examples below.

Capability Leadership component
Shapes strategic thinking
Figure 4 Leadership component—examples from the Pathway
Inspires a sense of purpose and direction Demonstrates and develops a vision and strategic direction for the branch/organisation
Focuses strategically Understands the organisations role within government and society, including the whole of government agenda
Achieves Results
Ensures closure & delivers on intended results Strives to achieve, and encourages others to do the same
Cultivates Productive Working Relationships
Values individual differences and diversity Capitalises on the positive benefits that can be gained from diversity and harnesses different viewpoints
Guides, mentors and develops people Offers support in times of high pressure and engages in activities to maintain morale

The technical component

Technical expertise and knowledge are fundamental requirements of every job in the workplace. The requirement for technical knowledge shifts with increasing seniority, from a requirement for depth of knowledge to one of breadth of knowledge. At all levels, technical knowledge and capability continue
to be linked to effective performance and credibility. It is the agency's responsibility to identify specific technical expertise and knowledge requirements, however there are examples in the Pathway as can be seen below.

Capability Technical component
Figure 5 Technical component—examples from the Pathway
Shapes strategic thinking
Harnesses information and opportunities Identifies and sources relevant information, identifies information gaps and recognises opportunities
Shows judgement, intelligence and commonsense Analyses and evaluates information to draw conclusions
Achieves results
Marshals professional expertise Contributes individual expertise to the organisation, and encourages others to draw upon the knowledge that is held

The managerial component

As with the leadership component, the managerial component requires capabilities from all five capability clusters. However, for this component there is a strong focus in the Achieves results capability clusters, as can be seen in the examples below. Relevant 'management fundamentals' have been indicated in each component to demonstrate the firm link that exists between the System and the fundamentals of good management practice.

Figure 6 Managerial component—examples from the Pathway
Capability Managerial component
Shapes strategic thinking
Shows judgement, intelligence and commonsense Undertakes objective, critical analysis and distils the core issues. Presents logical arguments and draws accurate conclusions.
  • Risk management
Achieves results
Builds organisational capability and responsiveness Evaluates ongoing project performance and identifies critical success factors. Responds flexibly to changing demands.
  • Project management and risk management
Marshals professional expertise Manages contracts judiciously. Actively ensures relevant professional input is obtained from others.
  • Knowledge management and talent management
Steers and implements change and deals with uncertainty Adopts a planned approach to the management of programs. Operates effectively in an environment of ongoing change and uncertainty.
  • Change management, project management, and resource management
Ensures closure and delivers on intended results Monitors project progress and identifies risks that may impact on outcomes. Adjusts plans as required.
  • Project management, risk management, and resource management
Communicates with influence
Negotiates persuasively Approaches negotiations with a strong grasp of the key issues. Presents a convincing and balanced argument.
  • Negotiation management and relationship management
Communicates clearly Confidently presents messages in a clear, concise and articulate manner. Focuses on key points for the audience and uses appropriate, unambiguous language.
  • Stakeholder management and relationship management

4. A values-based APS

The APS Values (the Values) give management the flexibility to address change and to manage ambiguity. The Values apply across regions, organisational structures and activities, and underpin the cultural fabric of Australian government agencies.

APS leaders play a vital role in modelling the Values and ensuring they are embedded in the APS. The Commission's publication Embedding
the APS Values
(2003) (Appendix A) offers practical advice for Agency Heads and senior executives on how to achieve integration between values and actions.

Figure 7 A Values base for Leadership

The above model identifies the principles of innovation, sustainability and integrity, coupled with core APS Values, as its fundamental components. By linking innovation with agency business outcomes and sustainability with a whole of government and agency perspective, the model provides for leadership
at both the operational and a whole of government level. There is an emphasis on the shared role of the APS Commission and the senior managers of the APS in developing and modelling leadership.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018