The 'Journey' carries on...
May 23, 2008
The journey to success doesn't always end when one reaches a management position.
The Army Sustainment Command rolled out its latest training endeavor this year, Journey to Leadership, tier III. The program has already garnered success in tiers I and II. Tier III is focused on senior leadership.
Inspiration for the program derives from a need to match civilian employee development to the formal and progressive military leadership development opportunities.
"Many people in the command were put in leadership positions based on their technical skills, but didn't necessarily have extensive leadership training," said Lisa Schuldt, program director for Journey to Leadership, tier III. "Tier III is helping fill the training void."
In the Army, from the minute a Soldier dons a uniform they are on an educational and leadership path. For officers, this journey takes them from a basic course in their branch to the Army War College. For enlisted members, their journey starts with basic training all the way to Sergeants Major Academy. For civilians however, that path is not as clearly paved.
"Tier III allows our senior leaders to have the same opportunities to learn about themselves, each other, and team interaction that the Journey to Leadership tiers I and II offer," said Diana Balmer, chief of staff, Army Sustainment Command. "We felt that it was time to take it to the next step and have a full continuum of the program."
The latest tier is building upon an already strong foundation in tiers I and II, which have been in place for four years. The pilot tier III program is four months long, with 16 days of formal classroom training.
One of the main focuses of the program is building coalitions and establishing networks. All of the G-staffs along with some special staff elements have representatives in the program.
"Many of the participants knew each other, but the program gave them a chance to work together on projects," Schuldt said. "After going through the program they have new relationships, enabling them to interact more freely with other offices."
Kristan Mendoza, branch chief for LOGCAP contracting, is a participant in the program and was nominated for the program by James Loehrl, ASC principal assistant responsible for contracting. She commented that networking was one of the key benefits of the program.
"Being able to network with other leaders in the command is so crucial for us to carry out our mission effectively," said Mendoza. "Being able to bounce ideas off a group of peers is really helpful."
The program utilizes many self-assessment instruments. Assessments are then coupled with individual coaching sessions to fully take advantage of the tools. In addition to the local training, tier III participants spent a week in Washington, D.C., concentrating on policy, politics, and planning.
Senior leadership in the command has always supported the Journey to Leadership programs and Tier III was no different, said Schuldt.
"We want to make this command more successful than it already is, so we needed to invest the time and effort into a program for our senior leaders of the command," Balmer said. "We believe the program is worth the investment because we are going to get better leaders and communicators who will move ASC forward into an every changing Army sustainment mission."
Regular homework assignments are featured throughout the "journey," with each participant finding his or her own unique way to balance mission and homework.
"I went to the award fee boards in Iraq. We had a couple of books that we were assigned to read so I took them along," said Mendoza. "I already knew that the time difference was going to cause some problems sleeping since I experienced that when I went to Afghanistan, so I figured I'd have some time to read. One night I woke up about 3 a.m. and couldn't sleep so I had one of the lights that cyclists wear and I got it out and started to read. A colleague woke up later and thought I was completely nuts.....but I did finish the book!"
Graduation from the pilot program is scheduled for August. After graduation, the program manager will take the feedback from participants to improve upon the tier III program. The plan for the future is to one day open the program up to ASC's subordinate organizations and other organizations on Arsenal Island.