Intermediate Course builds bridges for Army civilian leaders
September 12, 2011
In an hour-long presentation at the Army Management Staff College on Fort Belvoir, Lt. Gen. William Troy, the director of the Army Staff, outlined his five thoughts on Army leadership to the students and faculty of the Civilian Education System Intermediate Course. For the students, it reinforced the lessons they had been learning over the last few weeks.
"I don't think you can ever say that you are finished in the study of leadership. None of us can afford that luxury. We can all get better, and we all will get better," Troy said.
"I am convinced that thinking and talking about leadership makes us better leaders," Troy said. "It heightens, for us, this aspect that is so complex, there are so many things wrapped up in it, it is worth our time and attention."
AMSC's Intermediate Course is the second residence course in the CES. It is designed to prepare Army civilians for the increasing responsibilities in exercising direct and indirect supervision. Students attending the course enhance their leadership abilities and develop skills to manage human and financial resources; and work on developing the flexibility and resilience with a focus on the mission. This course is a combination of distributed learning and three weeks of resident instruction.
"The intermediate course is focused on developing organizational leaders. We pick up where the CES Basic Course leaves off. They focus on developing the individual leader, and we get at the leader of leaders," said Jack Hart, director of the intermediate course at AMSC. "We want Army civilians with a positive attitude that are interested in developing themselves as leaders, have an open mind, and are willing to learn and try new things."
John Harrison has been an intermediate course professor since the program began in 2006. For him, the course helps Army civilians take the next steps from knowing themselves and their abilities to being able to apply those effective to an organization and help other people.
"The intent of the intermediate course is to serve as a bridge, between the CES basic course, which focuses primarily on self-knowledge, self-awareness, introspection and understanding of who you are and what you bring to the Army equation of leading and managing," said Harrison. "As we explore the concept of leadership in the intermediate course, it is not a matter of who you are or what you think about the things you do or don't do. You now are somebody who has an additional responsibility to help other people get the Army mission done and, for lack of a better phrase, use yourself as a conduit or tool to maximize their potential."
For the students in the course, developing their leadership abilities and critical-thinking skills is important. But, another reason to attend is for the chance to share ideas, and network with peers and other Army professionals.
Ritsuko Moritami, a management analyst / work force development specialist at Camp Selma, Japan, says she opted to attend to build on what she had learned in the CES Basic Course.
"I needed to refresh what I had learned and to learn more on how I can be a better leader," said Moritami. "I have been able to think of new ideas to improve our work environment, and it has taught me to think and analyze problems in a different way"
For Michael White, a lead plans specialist, at Fort Lee, Va., the main attractions for him to the course was the emphasis on critical thinking, but also the opportunity to engage with his civilian peers.
"To me, what is one of the most valuable pieces of CES is meeting people," noted White. "You learn more sitting across from other people, getting to know them and learning what their organizations do. The personal interaction is so important."
There are now 120 students in session from across the Army. On average, 1,000 Army civilians graduate from the intermediate course annually. For fiscal year 2011, AMSC is on track to graduate more than 1,100 students.
Upon successful completion of the course, students will be skilled in leading people, developing cohesive and efficient organizations, managing resources and implementing change, while demonstrating effective thinking and communication skills.
For an Army in transition, the skills the intermediate course teaches in organizational leadership and critical thinking, combined with tapping the leadership potential of its Civilian Corps, has become more essential than ever before, stated Hart.
"If you look at where the Army is going, there are going to be less and less military in what we currently call the institutional Army. Those military will more than likely be replaced by civilian leaders, so we are developing our civilian leaders on that line," said Hart. "We send back to the Army a civilian that has a lot more confidence in their ability to lead, not only civilians, but to lead and interact with Soldiers. They are exposed to different things the Soldiers do, they see a better connection between what they do and the requirement to support that Soldier in the field."
For Harrison, the course's end results are more subjective. "The intermediate course is designed to let you step outside of being a great Army civilian to becoming a great Army civilian who can have a very positive effect on people around you. You don't have to be their formal supervisor. You can be someone who helps them feel better about what they do and about serving the nation, and be able to actually capitalize on those resources."