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About the GOAL Program

What is G.O.A.L.?

The Governor's Office Academy of Leadership (G.O.A.L.) is an exciting program open to mid-level merit compensation leaders in executive branch agencies* under the Office of the Governor. These leaders are the backbone of State government and play critical roles in providing stability through transitions and maintaining the operations that serve the State's mission.  The G.O.A.L. program provides an opportunity to develop leadership skillsets, build long-term relationships across agencies, and broaden perspectives to lead effectively in a diverse and changing environment.  

This program has been created for the purpose of advancing excellence in public service leadership. Leaders in public service organizations share many traditional roles and responsibilities with business leaders, but there are some significant differences: Public Service leaders are the stewards of citizen trust, and their overarching purpose is to provide for the common good, applying fiscal responsibility but not exclusively focused on a financial bottom line. The motivation that calls leaders to public service and the unique and tremendous responsibility they are entrusted with shapes how they lead and innovate to provide for the public welfare.

*For ease of communication, the term Agency is used here to refer to all organizations under the jurisdiction of The Governor's Office, to include Offices, Boards, Commissions, etc.

What is the commitment?

G.O.A.L. is a 10-month cohort program with a monthly in person session facilitated by a mix of industry leaders, academics, agency leaders, and The Governor's Staff.  Sessions alternate between Chicago and Springfield area locations. These sessions are followed by a monthly virtual reinforcement/application session.

What can leaders expect from the program?

Monthly topics Include: Public Service Leadership; Fostering Inclusive Cultures; Creating & Communicating Purpose, Vision and Strategic Direction; Building High Performing Teams; Leading in Times of Crisis; Political Savvy and Working Effectively with the Media, Legislators, and the Public; Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving,  among others. Continuing education credits (CEU) may be awarded based upon requirements of the credentialing body.

The program culminates with a team project having operational impacts (reduce expenses, add revenue, increase efficiencies, introduce innovation, address inequities, etc.), to be worked outside of sessions, and presented to Agency Leaders and The Governor's Office Staff at the program conclusion.

How are the projects selected?

Project ideas are submitted by Sponsoring Agency Leadership and/or by The Governor's Office from among several project focus areas that affect multiple agencies and advance the State's strategic goals. Sample projects might include issues associated with human resources, technology, public safety, citizen engagement, innovation, employee engagement, among others.

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible to apply you must meet these requirements:

  • Currently serving in an Agency Merit Compensation Leadership Position
    (If you are unsure about whether you are in a merit compensation position, please check with your human resource department. )
  • An overall "Meets Expectations" Performance Evaluation
  • At least 2 years continuous service with the State and a certified employee, not in probationary status
  • No disciplinary actions or performance plans in the last 5 years, past or pending
  • Supervisor commitment for program time requirements, including team project work, and Agency Manager approval for lodging and travel costs.
  • Must be willing to serve as alumni mentors for future G.O.A.L. program cohorts

How is the cohort selected?

G.O.A.L. is a selective program, limited to between 25-30 participants per cohort. The application includes 4 scored questions. A multi-agency evaluator panel blindly reviews and scores application responses, using a structured scoring tool. To facilitate the cross-agency networking and communication, agency distribution will be used as the final selection criteria.

How can interested individuals apply?

If all eligibility requirements are met and Agency approvals have been received, leaders interested in participating can click on the link below to complete the application. The questions below will need to be answered as part of the application.  Because the form may not save responses if you leave before submitting, we suggest you compose responses first, then paste them into the application.

  • Why do you want to participate in the G.O.A.L. program? (Scored)
    What one leadership quality or skill do you hope to gain through the program and why did you choose it?  (Scored)
  • How do you plan to use what you learn in the program? (Scored)
  • Explain what being a public service leader means to you. (Scored)
  • Describe two or three of your personal strengths (the "superpower" you bring to your team). (Not scored)
  • Describe the area of leadership development you most want to address through this program and why. (Not scored)
  • What is the most significant issue currently facing Illinois State Government? (Not scored)

For questions, please email