Project Athena helps develop leaders through self-assessments

By Laura LeveringApril 29, 2021

Brig. Gen. Charlies J. Masaracchia, director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence, discusses Project Athena with Fort Gordon senior leaders at Alexander Hall on April 21. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

A recently-launched initiative is being implemented at Fort Gordon and other installations Army-wide.

Brig. Gen. Charlies J. Masaracchia, director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, met with senior leaders on Fort Gordon April 21 to help shed some light on the initiative, which kicked off in November.

Named for the Greek goddess of war and signifying wisdom and learning, Masaracchia said Project Athena is “all about educating officers, warrant officers, and NCOs on self-awareness of one’s strengths, weaknesses, developmental needs, and blind spots” – the latter which he defined as “things that are perceived by other people around us.”

“We want to show them the benefits that can come out of truly applying yourself in this program that we have, and also to dispel conspiracy theories about what this data is used for,” Masaracchia said.

With Project Athena, leaders have access to a series of self-assessments intended to develop them to be successful individuals partly by identifying personal strengths and weaknesses. Responses to the self-assessments are used to help write their individual development plan, or IDP. Personnel taking the self-assessments may keep results private or choose to share them with a counselor. It is entirely their choice.

“That’s why I say it i a trust thing that we have to build with them – to be honest on their assessments to identify those weaknesses,” Masaracchia said. “Everybody has weaknesses, but getting them over the [misconception] that somebody else has this data and might use it for something is our greatest hurdle right now.”

Masaracchia went on to say that the initiative is directly tied to the Army chief of staff’s “People First” strategy, which prioritizes its people in everything it does as an organization and in turn leads to being able to carry out the Army’s missions in a most effective manner.

“What we don’t want to have an individual do is come all the way through their career not understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots, and then get to a predictive assessment, which is selecting the individuals for a specific job based off of strengths and weaknesses,” Masaracchia explained. “We want to prep them as they’re going through their careers to be as strong as they possibly can and have the greatest self-awareness.”

Initially, Project Athena was being implemented at the Basic Officer Leader Course with lieutenants. It has since evolved to include the NCOs Corps.