CSIS Accelerator Series
We are no longer accepting applications for the class of 2018. Nominations and applications for the class of 2019 will open in Winter 2018.
The CSIS Accelerator offers training opportunities for rising professionals who wish to reinforce their leadership, management, and communication skills to help accelerate their career growth. Today’s complex and fast-paced policy environment requires that professionals have the right tools to manage diverse teams, cross-sector programs, and transnational challenges. Working with CSIS’s top policy experts and guest coaches, participants will join a network of 20 CSIS staff and young professionals from across Washington who have been nominated by their supervisors and selected by CSIS’s Leadership Academy. As a cohort, participants will complete a rigorous series of experiential seminars and workshops, and learn to be strategic, ethical, and agile leaders.
This innovative program is designed for working professionals looking to refine strengths across the four thematic modules of Leadership, Strategic Management, Professional Skills, and Communication. The program is self-paced and conveniently held in the late afternoon at CSIS’s headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. Participants who successfully meet all requirements will receive a CSIS Certificate of Achievement upon completion.
Participants must be nominated by their supervisors to participate in this program. Nominees should meet the following criteria:
- Undergraduate degree and 3-8 years of professional experience, or advanced degree and 2+ years of professional experience
- Demonstrated interest in international security, global affairs, economics, political science, or other related area
- Potential to serve in leadership or management role
CSIS is seeking a diverse and accomplished cohort of young leaders who will be able to fully commit to the program and help build a vibrant and engaged peer learning environment. The selection committee will consider candidates’ professional background and leadership potential, as well as demonstrated interest in the four thematic modules: Leadership, Strategic Management, Professional Skills, and Communication. Proficiency in English is obligatory.
Tuition covers all course and administrative fees, including speakers, coaches, and course materials.
Tuition does not include meals or transportation. A limited amount of financial aid for candidates in the not-for-profit sector may be available. Applicants will have an opportunity to request financial assistance in the online application form.
HOW TO APPLY
We are no longer accepting applications for the 2018 program, but please check back in winter 2018 to apply for the class of 2019. To apply, please submit the following documents:
- Nomination letter from a current supervisor
- Completed application form
DURATIONParticipants may complete courses at their own pace to meet the certificate requirements. Courses are offered over a 9-month time span beginning in April 2019 and ending in December 2019, and primarily held on Thursday afternoons and evenings. Courses may range from 2 to 4 hours, though some may occasionally require a full-day commitment.
CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
Courses will be taught by CSIS scholars, faculty from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, guest lecturers, and executive coaches.
CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT
To receive a certificate of achievement, participants must complete a minimum of 14 courses. Participants are encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible, and there is no limit to the number of sessions that may be completed.
- Leadership – 2 courses
- Strategic Management – 2 courses
- Professional Skills – 2 courses
- Communication – 4 courses
- Electives – 4 courses from any modules
The CSIS Accelerator curriculum provides an opportunity for professionals to enroll in courses that match their needs. Participants may work progressively through the curriculum to continuously refine and apply leadership and management skills.
Leadership Frameworks and Mindful Leadership
Using self-assessments and case studies, this session focuses on the emotionally intelligent manager and leader, and the interpersonal communication skills essential for mentoring, accountability, and managing conflict. Participants will develop an understanding of the psychological blocks to communicating across teams and techniques to overcome them (listening, advocacy and inquiry, reflective listening and feedback/assertion). Participants will also learn how to consciously and strategically apply different leadership frameworks to team challenges.
- Adopt techniques for coaching team members – up, down, or across
- Learn how to uncover and address issues
- Deliver and receive constructive feedback
- Solve problems using different leadership frameworks and approaches
Understanding Temperament and Motivation: Self-Awareness and Team-Building
Participants will take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a personality assessment used widely by major organizations, to discover how their individual habits of behavior and communication affect their work within teams and their leadership style. This tool is critical for understanding personal strengths and identifying how to harness the greatest potential within others. To succeed, participants must also understand and learn how to identify their personal and professional motivations. The second part of this session will focus on how to incorporate these motivations into an enjoyable career.
- Recognize a variety of personality types and learn strategies for managing diverse teams
- Determine the strengths and challenges associated with one’s personality type
- Know what motivates you
- Recognize personality types in others and how to best communicate and motivate teams
D.C. Power Structures
Effective DC professionals must understand the nuances and motivations of stakeholders within the Washington, DC political ecosystem. This session will explore how to navigate Washington, DC power centers, including government bureaucracies, budget processes, interagency relations, major NGOs, and trade associations.
- Understand the pressure points in Washington, DC
- Learn how to make your voice heard and build impactful networks
- Anticipate change and understand underlying motivators
Modern businesses continuously face change, which can be disruptive, inefficient, and unsuccessful if not managed well from the beginning. Successful change requires leaders to build flexible and adaptive work cultures. From managing expectations to ensuring transparent communication, participants will learn how to manage change by effectively guiding and transitioning individuals, groups, and organizations.
- Understand the fears that workers encounter when major changes are introduced
- Learn the role of communication and leadership in the process of change management
- Develop skills to help employees cope through periods of change
- Help employees understand the benefits of change
Participants will receive an introduction to organizational management in the public sector, including policy implementation, management and implementation tools, and the purpose, benefits, and risks associated with performance contracting. This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning how the government manages the lifecycle of large public projects, and those who are interested in pursuing a career with the federal government or a contractor, particularly in the defense and energy sectors.
- Learn the fundamentals of public organizational management and basic federal contracting principles
- Identify how the USG implements policy
- Understand what tools are available to the USG, and the advantages and disadvantages of each
- Understand what performance contracting is and how the USG benefits
Successful project managers must understand how project financials drive organizational viability. In this seminar, participants will learn new budgeting tools and strategies for planning, implementing, and controlling expenditures, and for reporting and analyzing results for stakeholders. Participants will learn about the differences between cash and accrual accounting, how to build budgets, and how to make informed decisions to optimize project results.
- Learn best practices for reviewing, evaluating, and assessing an organization or program’s financial performance
- Understand cost-benefit analysis and decision making, including the role of profit at a non-profit organization
- Learn how to build flexible budgets, find break-even points, and to account for variables like interest, personnel costs, and changes in service needs or contractual requirements
Leaders are responsible for overseeing change within their organization and identifying opportunities for growth and improvement. Design thinking is a human-centered methodology that frames challenges as a design problem to explore the many ways to develop creative and practical solutions to a question. This session will provide a comprehensive introduction to the design thinking process and engage in a group activity to solve a complex problem by applying the principles of design thinking. Participants will walk away with the tools and framework for understanding how innovation can help tackle problems in their projects, teams, or personal entrepreneurial ventures.
- Understand the design thinking methodology
- Practice the application of design thinking
- Learn how to facilitate a design thinking session to resolve a project or team challenge
Data Analysis and Research Methods
In a policy and business environment, managers must be able to design and implement effective strategies for analyzing quantitative and qualitative information. In this course, participants will learn research methods for collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing information for social science research. The course will also cover how to manage research questions and choices along the way, such as research conceptualization, data ethics, causal inference, and selection of case studies. By understanding this process, participants will be able critically analyze research conclusions, question assumptions, and make better decisions.
- Understand methodologies for conducting social science research
- Learn how to design an appropriate research strategy
- Make ethical decisions when managing and manipulating data
- Communicate information – especially complex data sets – in a meaningful way and make it relevant to business and policy audiences
This session will introduce participants to different tools and best practices for data visualization, allowing them to develop more sophisticated presentations that succinctly capture large data sets and complex ideas. These techniques may be applied to various delivery platforms, such as PowerPoint, but also outreach materials and program documents, including spreadsheets, reports, and websites. Staff will also receive an introduction to open source tools and platforms to understand the basics of digital communication and turning data into graphs, images, and more.
- Compute complex ideas in a creative and visual way
- Understand best practices for creating engaging and approachable presentations
- Develop the confidence to use new platforms and innovative tools
- Understand the basics and how to get started with coding and other digital tools
Social Media Trends and Engagement Strategies
This session will examine the opportunities and challenges of today's fast-changing media and online environment. Participants will discuss current trends in global news and social media and how to work within that landscape to develop a responsible business (and personal) brand. Participants will gain an understanding of how to navigate traditional media outlets, and how organizations can maximize their impact through different social media channels to help their work get noticed. Trends in fake news as well as data analytics and tools to measure audience impact will also be explored.
- Understand media, public attitudes, and online behavior trends
- Understand different media platforms, trends, opportunities, and challenges
- Learn how to build effective social media campaigns
- Learn how to measure online engagement and impact
How to Conduct a Policy Briefing
Delivering concise, clear briefings is a critical skill for policy professionals. It is equally important to understand one's audience and know how to adjust talking points to effectively brief a range of stakeholders. In this session, participants will learn how to break down complex information into a succinct narrative, and how to convey information with authority, confidence, and clarity while being cognizant of their audience.
- Learn policy briefing conventions and standards
- Prepare and deliver effective briefings
- Communicate complex, nuanced ideas clearly and quickly
- Understand best practices for PowerPoint presentations and other visual aides
Media Training and Moderating
Participants will receive coaching in effective public speaking and practice personal presentations to increase confidence and become effective communicators regardless of audience size. This session will arm participants with tools for building and delivering effective personal narratives, or elevator pitches, which are critical for networking and conveying information memorably. Participants will also have an opportunity to practice giving on-camera interviews and fielding questions from a reporter, an important skill that can be applied to job interviews, client and donor meetings, and networking events. They will leave with a nuanced understanding on how to turn complex, lengthy information into digestible soundbites, how to think on their feet, and how to control an interview or conversation.
- Improve oral presentation skills
- Develop and practice the physical skills required for effective delivery
- Mitigate nervousness by employing stress management tools
- Display confidence as a presenter in front of small and large audiences
- Successfully communicate your personal narrative at formal and informal networking events
- Control an interview or conversation
For centuries, business leaders and policymakers have told stories to communicate and humanize complex ideas. In this session, participants will learn how to leverage the art of storytelling to advance business and policy objectives, and how to transform abstract data or technical information into meaningful messages. They will leave with a better understanding of how to fuse humor, emotion, and facts into a cohesive, compelling business or policy narrative, and how to listen and connect to an audience. The material will focus on storytelling for presentations and speeches, but the principles may also be applied to digital and written projects.
- Understand how to structure and develop a compelling story
- Learn how to infuse a story with humor and emotion
- Tailor a message to an audience
- Communicate data-heavy research or abstract ideas in a meaningful way
How to Write a Policy Brief
This course will prepare participants to draft high-quality policy briefs that are succinct, free of jargon and written in plain English, enabling the reader to quickly identify any key lessons and understand how and where these might be applied in practice. For any policy brief there will be a tradeoff between providing depth of context and delivering something that is succinct, targeted, and digestible. Learning to balance this tradeoff is one of the key skills of writing for policy.
- Clearly outline research findings, policy recommendations, and action items
- Effectively communicate high-level information to senior decisionmakers
- Understand how to discern and narrow important information from multiple sources
This course will focus on the skills involved in selecting, researching, organizing and writing persuasive messages. Participants will acquire the skills they need to present their ideas effectively to small and large audiences. In a small, supportive classroom environment, participants will learn to communicate their ideas effectively using verbal, written, and visual techniques. They also learn important listening skills, and peer evaluations of speeches are an important component of the course.
- Learn how to create clear, concise outlines for written and oral discourse
- Learn how to use examples and evidence in public speaking
- Practice delivering speeches
Proposal Writing for Non-Profit Professionals
Proposal writing is an essential skill for all non-profit professionals, particularly as the funding environment becomes more competitive and revenue streams shrink. From learning how identify donor priorities to making the pitch, participants will learn how to effectively outline, write, and pitch proposals to donors, including private sector partners and government agencies.
- Summarize the challenges associated with obtaining program-level funding
- Analyze how political factors influence grant funding
- Explain the skills needed to develop a grant proposal
- Identify how to locate available funding sources
- Create an example of an effective grant proposal
- Learn how to pitch proposals to a donor
Clear and effective communication is key to negotiating successful outcomes for personal objectives or business development. Leaders must actively and skillfully connect with all negotiating parties, and work towards mutually agreeable solutions while still ensuring their primary objectives are met. This course will examine the principles of successful negotiation, and allow participants to practice strategies that lead to successful business outcomes.
- Plan and implement strategies for successful negotiation outcomes
- Learn tactics to advance business interests
- Understand how outcomes should be incorporated into agreements
- Practice negotiation skills with other colleagues
In this course, participants will take a deep-dive into anthropological and philosophical perspectives on cross-cultural communication dynamics in conflict and everyday situations across the world. This hands-on and interactive workshop will highlight basic cultural awareness, and cross-cultural communication and conflict management skills. Participants will receive a general introduction to thinking and working with cultural difference in conflict management that will provide you with a great opportunity to learn and develop facilitation skills that will serve as a foundation for working with diverse groups both in professional and community outreach.
- Define culture beyond the reified notion of the "other"
- Identify nonverbal communication, language, tone, and hidden knowledge in others
- Confidently and successfully resolve conflicts using communication and facilitation tools
- Navigate cultural dynamics, such as norms and customs, when traveling or interacting with diverse groups
This course aims at equipping participants with toolkits of handling conflict and negotiation through simulated exercises. While participating in negotiation simulation and adopting the role of a stakeholder, participants will experience how the nature and types of conflict, mechanisms for conflict escalation and de-escalation, and different conflict resolution styles can affect negotiation outcomes.
- Learn strategies to avoid various cognitive biases in conflict situations and negotiation
- Know the differences of distributive versus value-creating negotiation approaches
- Practice getting to win-win outcomes