SMDC team members learn to lead
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command team members, from left, Kara Pleasant, Monica Merriweather, Wayne Bracy, Julie Brown and Willie Ransom participated in the Emerging Enterprise Leader Program during 2023 to improve leadership development to become the Army’s next generation of leaders. (U.S. Army photo by Jason B. Cutshaw) (Photo Credit: Jason Cutshaw) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Learning leadership skills was a goal of five U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command team members who spent the past year participating in the Emerging Enterprise Leader Program to improve themselves personally as well as professionally.

The five USASMDC team members are Wayne Bracy, Julie Brown, Monica Merriweather, Kara Pleasant and Willie Ransom. They learned through leadership assessment, team development, effective writing and conflict resolution. Seminars focused on topics such as understanding the Department of Defense, managing organizations, building teams and leading people.

“I want to build on my leadership skills, such as collaboration with peers, communication and team building and enhance my career development,” Merriweather said. “EELP participation benefited my professional career by honing essential leadership principles such as communication, decision-making, and strategic thinking.”

Merriweather said the program cultivated effective teamwork, boosted her confidence, and provided opportunities for networking with USASMDC members outside of her immediate division.

“The program has and will continue to contribute to my personal and professional growth. I would recommend EELP to other SMDC team members,” she added. “The program builds confidence, provides the opportunity to work outside of your comfort zone, and allows you to team build with SMDC members outside of your immediate division.”

Dana Henslee, USASMDC G-1 organization adviser, said the 2023 EELP program kicked off in December 2022 and concluded in January.

“EELP provides an opportunity to identify, train and develop SMDC aspiring leaders,” Henslee said. “It broadens perspectives, builds competencies in leading change, leading people and building coalitions. The program provides developmental and growth opportunities for aspiring leaders not normally available.”

Henslee said each EELP participant selected a mentor to work with throughout the program and were also responsible for self-development. This included completing an OPM Leadership Course, the Space Cadre Course, and the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, course.

There was also required reading and each month, and one participant would lead the group in a discussion of that month’s reading assignment.

Henslee said they were also required to complete a team project, and the team focused on the best path forward to offer mentoring opportunities for USASMDC personnel. She said the project gave participants the opportunity to broaden their experience with the roles and responsibilities as a team leader and team member.

“Civilian employees should commit to professional and personal growth. And adaptive professional civilian workforce is essential to the success of the Army,” Henslee said. “The Senior Enterprise Talent Management and the Enterprise Talent Management Program are key components of Army civilian development at an advance level.”

Henslee said EELP expands the developmental approach to encompass aspiring leaders with NH-02 and NH-03 or GS 11-13 equivalents eligible to apply. The announcement for the fiscal year 2025 program is expected to open in early April and will begin during the first quarter of the 2025 fiscal year.

“I was interested in joining EELP because I wanted to foster effective leadership skills such as communication, decision making and strategic thinking,” Bracy said. “When I applied for EELP, I was a team leader and I wanted to position myself to be an effective leader. EELP has shown me what an effective leader should and shouldn’t do when leading personnel.

“I was honored to be paired with a good group of participants,” he added. “We learned life lessons from each other as we navigated the programs criteria. Your capacity to handle adversity will speak volumes of your leadership capabilities.”

Pleasant said she joined EELP to improve her practical experience and knowledge in leadership. She said she wanted to work with people with similar interests in professional development and gain various skills, strategies and techniques to help her grow in her career.

“Throughout the program, I broadened my understanding of the command and connected with a group of experts I can refer to in future endeavors,” Pleasant said. “Moreover, I pushed myself by taking on tasks and assignments outside my area of expertise, which allowed me to grow and develop new skills.

“I strongly encourage individuals to seize all opportunities to enhance and cultivate their careers,” she added. “Every experience can offer valuable insights and knowledge for personal and professional growth. It is imperative to continually seek opportunities to develop one’s skills and competencies to remain competitive in today’s ever-changing world. The EEL program can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. If you're up for the challenge and want to make a lasting impact on your career, leadership opportunities such as EELP are perfect for you.”