Create a pilot Congressional Leadership Academy for Members which offers professional development and institutional training.
Newly-elected Members receive initial training through new Member orientation, but after orientation there are few—if any—opportunities for Members to continue learning. The Committee believes that Members would benefit greatly from ongoing professional development opportunities, from how to manage an office, to developing better negotiation skills.
For many new Members, learning how to manage an office is essential, yet there is no training for this. Personnel issues and budget management concerns can be tough for Members and their staff to manage without proper training and can ultimately distract from their important constituent and policy work. Offering management training to new (and returning) Members would help prepare them for successful congressional careers.
In addition to providing Members with the training necessary to manage their offices, a Congressional Leadership Academy could offer Members a range of professional development opportunities. At the state-level, NCSL offers committee chair training, effective legislator training, ethics, negotiation, media relations and strategic planning facilitation for leadership teams. NCSL also offers specific programming for legislators in leadership positions that focus on themes such as risk, decision-making, culture, and trending policy topics. There are also emerging leaders’ programs that offer “up and coming” legislators an opportunity to learn leadership theory and skills such as collaborative problem solving, leading through change, and managing a caucus.
Just as the Congressional Staff Academy gathered direct feedback from nearly 600 individual House staffers about the type of programming they need to do their jobs effectively, a Congressional Leadership Academy for Members should do the same. By surveying Members about what training they need most, the Leadership Academy could develop and tailor a curriculum that best meets Members’ needs and their unique schedules on Capitol Hill.
Thus, the Committee recommends creating a pilot Congressional Leadership Academy for Members which offers professional development and institutional training. Alongside in-person training opportunities, seminars and other forums for learning should be made easily available online.