By Kari HawkinsOctober 27, 2017
Cultural changes shown through music videos from the '60s, '70s and today illustrated for a group of about 30 Aviation and Missile Command employees the challenges leaders may face in leading various groups in society.
The videos launched the group into a three-day leadership workshop Oct. 24-26 taught by retired Navy Capt. Ron Woods, the former commanding officer of the Center for Naval Leadership.
The "Art of Leadership" workshop involved AMCOM employees working at the U.S. Army Test, Measurement and Diagnostics Equipment Activity at Redstone Arsenal. USATA executive director Dr. Myra Gray said the workshop provides employees with leadership skills that will impact USATA's work environment.
Good leadership is about "how you operate, how you engage with others and how you lead others to common goals. I hope this class gives you a tool kit to be your own better person in your personal life, your public life and your professional life," Gray said in her introduction of the workshop to employees.
Woods, who's 28-year career as a Navy attack pilot with eight command tours eventually transitioned into Naval leadership training that included co-designing the curriculum content for all Naval officer and enlisted leadership training worldwide, is the author of two books on leadership. Since his retirement, he has presented more than 4,000 leadership workshops.
Woods told the employees that to be good leaders they must master four core competencies.
"You have to, first, be able to lead yourself," he said. "Then, you have to be able to articulate the mission, build a team and manage the day. You have to be able to manage the tasks so that you get the work out the door."
While the workshop is about self-development for today's leaders, its lessons go back in time to ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Woods said. It is built on the warrior ethos, the warrior character that is about being equipped and ready.
"Why are the warrior ethos important? Because its about mastering the warrior disciplines: lead you before you lead me, value people all the time, learn something new every day and plan to improve the organization," he said.
The best leadership class, he said, is life experience. But, at the same time, people often don't understand how to take that life experience and use it to lead.
"You already half know what we are going to do in this workshop. You have the intuitive feeling about people and leadership and USATA, and that's where we're going," Woods said.
"Notice what attracts your attention because when the student is ready, the teacher appears, and that teacher is life."
It's obvious from today's headlines that leadership is the number one challenge of organizations around the world, Woods said. Those headlines are backed by Gallup polls, which also show that organizations focused on leadership development experience 60 percent improved growth and 35 percent lower employee turnover. Another survey quoted by Woods showed that disengaged employees cost companies $3,400 for every $10,000 in earned sales.
"As leaders, we must learn from our mistakes and get back on the right track," Woods said.
"That starts with seeing ourselves more clearly, putting together the pieces of leadership required to make us successful and charting your course."
In seeing more clearly, leaders need to understand that what draws attention also sets the direction and brings them to their destination, he said. After sharing several leadership models with the USATA employees, Woods said the one that covers all aspects of leadership in the most direct way is known as the EPLS model, an acronym that stands for Every Person Leads Someone. The characteristics of this model break down into: Ethos (character, personal success), Pathos (connection, people success). Logos (competence, professional success) and Sophos (change and growth, progress).
"Your character overlaps your connection with people and that overlaps core competencies. Over all of that you have change and growth and progress," Woods said.
By the end of the three-day workshop, the USATA employees experienced several different perspectives on leadership, and worked together on group activities to learn about themselves and leading others.
The workshop is the first of many leadership training opportunities that will be offered to USATA employees in the coming years.
"We want to get these principles of leadership infused into the USATA culture," USATA executive director Gray told the employees. "This is the first step in overwhelming organizational change that will help to drive us to the next level. We want each of you to be part of the solution in our commitment to be a better organization."