How to Become a Leadership Analyst with the Central
Intelligence Agency

Leadership analysts with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Intelligence are responsible for providing U.S. policymakers and other relevant decision makers with assessments and analyses of foreign leaders and legislators/representatives, as well as other key members in the science and technology, social, cultural, economic, and military fields.

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A crucial component of foreign intelligence involves understanding foreign leaders; therefore, leadership analysts with the CIA produce in-depth profiles of these leaders (and other key individuals) through extensive research and the assimilation of data.

Their research may be derived from a number of contrasting sources, and their assignments may need to be completed under tight time constraints. As such, leadership analysts must be able to acquire information and craft it into a cohesive, tightly-woven written product for key U.S. policymakers.

As analysts within the DI, leadership analysts are required to support the office’s mission, which is to protect U.S. national security interests by anticipating and assessing swiftly changing international developments and the impact they may have on U.S. policies. The analysis of intelligence by DI professionals such as leadership analysts allows U.S. policymakers and other senior decision makers to make the most informed decisions regarding national security and defense strategies.

A Closer Look at Leadership Analysis

Leadership analysis is best defined as studying all facets of leaders, including their psychological components. This field of study, which is often seen as an offshoot of political psychology, utilizes the tools of psychology by exploiting the psychological traits of the individual in questions. Leadership analysts use this study of the psyche to analyze the leader’s character traits within the context of society and culture.

As such, leadership analyses may include describing the individual’s life, an analysis of how certain events shaped or changed the leader’s life, and the actions the leader may therefore take in certain situations (using “if/then” predictors).  For example, narcissistic leaders may lack empathy, which then may make them more apt to take irresponsible chances to accomplish a personal goal.

Just some of the information obtained through leadership analysis may include:

  • Early experiences
  • Defense mechanisms
  • Information processing styles
  • Personality type
  • Belief system (and the consistency of that belief system)
  • Cognitive considerations
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Becoming a Leadership Analyst with the CIA

Individuals interested in pursuing a leadership analyst career with the CIA must be United States citizens, and they must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree (with a minimum 3.0 GPA) in either leadership studies or a closely related field, such as:

  • Psychology
  • Political psychology
  • Organizational psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology

Individuals with regional expertise are often seen as ideal candidates, as are those with degrees that focus on international relations, political science, history, or foreign areas study. Coursework and research in small-group behavior is also deemed desirable for leadership analyst jobs with the CIA.

Competitive candidates will have high GPAs, relevant experience, foreign language proficiency, and foreign area knowledge, which was achieved through studying, living, or working abroad.

Candidates for leadership analyst jobs with the CIA must be able to successfully complete an extensive background investigation, and they must be able to pass a medical examination, psychological examination, and polygraph examination.

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