Emerging leaders graduate from training
November 4, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (Nov. 7, 2013) -- Not many people would call a government training opportunity "life-changing", but two U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center employees claim the Defense Civilian Emerging Leader Program is indeed a life-altering opportunity.
Magdalena Mulherin, a Design, Pattern and Prototype Team clothing designer and Wesley Long, an Equipment Specialist for the Advanced Materials Engineering Team completed the course which concluded recently.
The 10-month program was funded by the Department of Defense and the United States Army Acquisition Support Center. Training is intended for Army Acquisition Civilians GS-7 through GS-11 throughout the U.S. Over 140 people from the Human Resources, Acquisition, and Financial Management community participated in the course which took place at the nearby DoD Executive Management Training Center in Southbridge, MA.
Five one-week-long residency courses covered Leadership Assessment Team Development (session 1 and 2), Effective Writing in the Federal Government, Conflict Resolution, and Leadership for Non-Supervisors. The courses focus on core communication skills including oral communication, interpersonal skills, problem solving, conflict management, leadership, creative thinking, and written communication.
"You learn so much about yourself, how you act within a group, and you received one-on-one feedback from professional coaches," said Mulherin about the Leadership Assessment Development course. "All of these classes you could apply to not only work but your personal life as well, regardless of your career."
Mulherin discussed how the first course helped people better understand themselves, how they think, learn, communicate, and act as a leader. During one lesson in particular participants had to deliver an impromptu speech about a topic for three minutes with only a minute to formulate their ideas and prepare. Each individual was recorded and then had the opportunity to review their speech, along with his/her peers and a professional coach.
This exercise, among others, helped participants see where they needed to make improvements when they communicated with others. Communication is necessary for people to be effective leaders, yet many people forget that the act of listening is a major part of good communication.
"All you do as a leader is create an environment for success, a good leader lets others lead themselves," Long said. "You are there to help (employees) as a leader."
Long wrote his capstone paper for the course about peer-mentoring and knowledge transfer, citing some skills he learned during the course including learning how to listen and not multi-tasking. He also mentioned that the program helped him look at himself more closely and he is continuously working to improve his communication skills.
Both Long and Mulherin agreed that programs like these are often given to people who are already in full-time leadership roles.
"I think it's really important that they set up this program and believe in us as people who are moving up within our fields," said Long. "It's never too late to teach leadership."
The learning does not stop once participants graduate the DCELP-- all participants receive take-aways including pamphlets, books, binders, and DVDs that can be shared with co-workers and others. Additionally, a variety of group exercises, lectures, seminars, and classroom instruction kept participants engaged.
The DCELP program is still relatively new; graduates of the 2013 course were only the second group of people to complete the course, which allowed participants to give constructive feedback to DCELP personnel so that they can continue to improve the course.
"It is a very hard program to get accepted into and we should be proud of these two NSRDEC employees who exemplify and strive to be leaders," said Annette LaFleur, DPPT team leader.
NSRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.