By Chris Rasmussen, Fort Jackson LederMarch 10, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Initial Military Training battalion commanders are used to leading by example. But that doesn't mean there isn't any room for improvement.
Fourteen Fort Jackson battalion commanders got a chance to reflect and improve on their leadership skills earlier this month during a three-day leadership training program with the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C.
"It was an amazing experience," said Lt. Col. Larry Murray, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. "I learned a lot about myself. Any feedback, good or bad, always needs to be received."
The course is part of a larger leadership training program instituted by the installation's commanding general. Leader development is one of five priorities set forth by Maj. Gen. James Milano, Fort Jackson commanding general.
"Army leaders are trained to supervise within two levels of their subordinates," said Michael Ryan, the installation's strategic planner. "Battalion commanders focus on company commanders and the commanding general focuses on battalion commanders."
The three-day course, which was held March 1-3, began with a complete assessment that measured 16 skills critical for successful leadership. The Center for Creative Leadership staff then reviewed those assessments to determine the commanders' strengths and weaknesses as leaders. The assessment was derived from self reports, direct reports, peers and supervisors.
"It is a great opportunity to reflect on your leadership skills and personality traits and how they impact an organization," said Lt. Col. Bryan Hernandez, commander 3rd Bn., 34th Inf. Reg. "It gives you a gauge on what we do well and what we can improve on."
The commanders were then put into small groups where, with the help of CCL coaches, they focused on creating positive changes within their organizations. Day Two began with a study on understanding teams and organizations, influence and transforming an organization. The second day culminated with a visit to an American Revolution Battlefield - Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro.
The last day of the program began with one-on-one sessions with personal coaches to develop a plan of action.
"The best part of the week was the last day when we sat down with a coach and developed a strategy to modify our behavior to what we want to improve on and (created) a strategy to groom our personal strengths," Murray said. "You really find out about your own personality quirks and how to get to what you are striving toward."
A one-day, follow-up session of the course is slated for May 17 to gauge the commanders' successes on implementing new leadership styles.
"The biggest leadership style I want to bring back to my battalion is to provide more feedback to my subordinates and not waiting until a counseling session," Hernandez said.
The Center for Creative Leadership, which was founded in 1970, offers 14 different leadership programs to 20,000 individuals and 2,000 organizations annually across the public, private, nonprofit and education sectors. Its programs, which are designed to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership, ranked in the top 10 worldwide by Financial Times.
Editor's note: The leadership training program is part of Fort Jackson's Campaign Plan, and is tied to training objective 2.0 - developing leaders.