Army National Guard and Army Reserve units welcome Athena leader development program

By Macy Marxman and Center for Army Leadership staff, Mission Command Center of ExcellenceAugust 7, 2023

A Soldier previews the Athena Self-Development Tool July 20, 2023, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier previews the Athena Self-Development Tool July 20, 2023, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. (Photo Credit: Macy Marxman for MCCoE Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
Noncommissioned officers with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard complete a series of Athena assessments at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Noncommissioned officers with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard complete a series of Athena assessments at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. (Photo Credit: 1st Sgt. Matthew Stohrer, PAARNG) VIEW ORIGINAL
Participants of the Commandants Training Council stand for a group photo after a day of coaching workshop, Individual Development Plan writing, discussing accreditation standards and learning about Athena assessments June 23, 2021, at Fort Bliss, Texas. (U.S. Army photo NCO Leadership Center of Excellence)
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Participants of the Commandants Training Council stand for a group photo after a day of coaching workshop, Individual Development Plan writing, discussing accreditation standards and learning about Athena assessments June 23, 2021, at Fort Bliss, Texas. (U.S. Army photo NCO Leadership Center of Excellence) (Photo Credit: NCOLCoE Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Army National Guard and Army Reserve units will soon see “Athena,” the Army’s premier leader development program designed to promote self-awareness, at all National Guard Regional Training Institutes and U.S. Army Reserve training locations.

Athena will gain full operational capability at these locations by Sept. 30, 2024. Training locations gain initial operational capability after completing facilitator training, conducting initial pilot assessments and integrating Athena assessments into steady-state operations.

Athena, formerly known as “Project Athena,” uses a battery of assessments to increase a Soldier’s self-awareness of leadership skills, leadership behaviors, cognitive abilities and personal traits and attributes.

“A leader’s effectiveness is a key component of Army readiness,” said Col. Eric Beaty, Center for Army Leadership director. “When units have strong, effective leaders, unit climates are more positive and units feel more prepared to accomplish missions. This is why Athena and leader self-development are as important for the National Guard and Army Reserve as they are for the active component.”

Since its launch in 2020, the Athena program has delivered on its mission to provide leaders with the tools to identify their strengths, help them recognize areas for improvement, and deliver access to resources that support self-development. With Athena, Army leaders are continuously developing new skills and improving their leadership abilities.

Students that have taken the assessments report feeling better prepared for their next assignment and acknowledge greater self-awareness and a stronger sense that the Army supports them.

Depiction of how Athena assessments identify areas for development and how an individual can use that information to change performance.
Depiction of how Athena assessments identify areas for development and how an individual can use that information to change performance. (Photo Credit: Graphic illustration by Macy Marxman for MCCoE Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

In an April 12, 2023, memorandum, Col. Geoffrey Buchanan, chief of training for the Army National Guard, emphasized that “the Army National Guard will integrate the Athena Assessment Program with on-going Army education, training, and modernization efforts and activities.”

“The Chief of Staff of the Army at the Green Tab Commanders Conference in January 2023, addressed ARNG division and brigade commanders and CSMs, stressing the importance and value of Athena in the development of service members,” said Maj. Taurus Gardin, strategic initiative team chief at the National Guard Bureau. “Obtaining support at the most senior level, along with implementation by phases, has made the transition into Athena seamless.”

When it comes to developing leaders, Athena is the cornerstone of the self-development domain, along with the institutional and operational domains of development, laying the foundation for leader development and growth. An individual’s self-awareness from Athena assessments and personal and professional commitment to informed self-development hone their proficiency and aid advancement to the next.

Field Manual 6-22, Developing Leaders, paragraph 3-33, states that "Reserve Component leaders have a unique opportunity to improve both civilian and military skills by linking self-development goals to skills shared by both professions." The goal of Athena within the Army Reserve and Army National Guard is to help individuals bridge the leadership skills from their personal lives and civilian and military careers.

“Athena assessments correlate directly with the principles of mission command: communicating clear intent, developing competence, fostering mutual trust and creating shared understanding,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Stubenvoll, U.S. Army Forces Command/U.S. Army Reserve Command Special Troops Battalion. “They create a formalized structure and recorded system to provide Soldiers a way to receive a multitude of assessments and feedback across their career to see and identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth and development.”

Leader Development Roadmap
Depiction of how Athena uses the Individual Development Plan (DA Form 7906) to build a leader development roadmap. (Photo Credit: Graphic Illustration by Macy Marxman for MCCoE Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

At the end of the day, one of the greatest benefits of Athena is leaders developing better self-awareness of their strengths and developmental needs. With Athena’s tangible feedback, leaders can quickly take action and dive into the resources necessary to adjust how they lead, communicate, think and interact with others.

For more information about Athena and to access other leader development resources, visit the Center for Army Leadership website.