FORT POLK, La. — Fort Polk’s premier Forging New Leaders program reached a new benchmark, entering its forth year of implementation Jan. 14 with 11 new students.“We did an initial three-year pilot program, and each year we worked out the bugs. Last year we dealt with COVID-19, hurricanes and tornadoes, but it was still successful.” Parks said that the garrison is now executing its first four-year contract for the course, as it is now fully developed.Across the program’s 10-month timeline, graduates log more than 180 hours of classroom instruction, which includes team projects; academic studies, readings and presentations; and 14 directorate briefs and tours focusing on Fort Polk’s major services and functions, said Parks.FNL begins with eights hours of Stephen Covey’s, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” eight hours of operations order writer and concept of operations development and 40 hours of Army Design Methodology and Military Decision Making Process instruction.Including MDMP is what sets Fort Polk’s FNL course apart from other installation FNL programs.“This instruction is key to training Army civilians, that are experts in their field, in becoming experts at operationalizing their projects, concepts and events to better nest with their uniformed counterparts and present it successfully to the commander for approval,” he said.“These skills are also necessary to assemble and analyze a project that the garrison commander and directorates need to solve complex issues on the installation.”Garrison issues are presented to the class, which is broken down into teams, “and that (issue) will be the navigating thread throughout the entire program,” said Parks.The course culminates in the teams briefing their proposed solutions to the commander. “The installation gets a win-win; employees receive critical leadership development and then they deliver actionable solutions for the garrison,” he said.Over the past three years, five out of six recommendations have been implemented, helping leaders provide more efficient services to the Fort Polk community.During the second month of the program, students begin to hone their skills with 10classes including Business Organization Structure, Time and Task Management, Personal Productivity, Career Management, Effective Communication, Making your Leadership Commitment, Creating a Coaching and Performance Culture, Project Management, Leadership Framework and Team Building. Coupled with the directorate briefings, students recognize the importance of clear and effective communication, and how the team relies high-functioning interdependence to make things work.“The skills and experiences gained during the FNL program is priceless,” said Parks.“Personal and professional relationships are forged and strengthened, buttressed by the installation workforce’s augmented mutual, operational understanding.”Thirty percent of FNL graduates have already taken positions of greater responsibility, and 100% of them feel they learned skills that will jettison them into new roles and responsibilities down the line.“FNL graduates have openly confirmed that their knowledge of garrison operations and their confidence to lead has improved since completing the course,” said Parks.Parks also noted that the program aligns with the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army’s statement: “We win through people, and people will drive success in our readiness, modernization and reform priorities.”If you are interested in taking the course, or if you have any questions, please contact Bobbie Parks at 531-1102 or by emailing bobbie.l.parks.civ@mail.mil.