October 25, 2012

Developing Leadership: civilians need to step up like Marines

Mona Messer
MCAS Community Planning & Liaison

Time and again I hear the phrase “growing our own leaders”.   How does the task get accomplished for the civilians aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma?  That’s an easy answer for those that want to take full advantage of the training provided through the Civilian Leadership Development Program (CLD).  One such program in the Centrally Managed Programs sponsored by the Lejeune Leadership Institute (LLI) is the Leadership Development Programs through the USDA Graduate School.  According to the Graduate School’s website the focus is on “developing current and future federal executives, managers and leaders, the Graduate School leadership programs strengthen both individual and organizational performance.”  Your GS level will determine which program you will attend:

•Aspiring Leader Program (GS 4-6)

•New Leader Program (GS 7-11)

•Exec. Leadership Program (GS 11-13)

•Exec. Potential Program (GS 13-15)

•Senior Exec. Service (SES) Developmental Seminars (GS 14-15)

I just completed the New Leader Program (NLP) this month and it is a game changer for me and my leadership development.   There are so many things that I learned and worked on developing that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few key elements.  The biggest growth for me was the confidence I obtained to step out of my box and realize I can be that leader that the Marine Corps is looking to develop.  Some of the assignments included management book reviews, shadowing assignments and interviews with higher level managers, team projects and working on core competencies.  It all boiled down to getting to know me better, improving my weaknesses and strengthening my strengths.

One of the areas I chose to work on was Political Savvy.  In my current position it is important to understand the political atmosphere at the local, state and federal levels and how it impacts Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (MCASY).  Such issues as encroachment, economic impact and noise control are just three issues that affect both the installation and the local community.  A few high points came from my interview with Yuma Mayor, Alan Krieger who emphasized the good working relationship that exists between the city and MCASY.  Another high point came about after interviewing the station Legislative Analyst, Amy Duffy, who was a wealth of knowledge about the political process.  After our interview she arranged for me to spend a day shadowing one of the Yuma County State Representatives, Lynne Pancrazi at the State Legislator Building in Phoenix, Ariz.  This was a wonderful experience to see how our political system works first hand.  I was introduced to many other Representatives and acquainted with the process of how a piece of legislation works its way through the system.   In addition to this I also was the recipient of first hand workings of “networking.”   What I mean by this; after spending a day with Representative Pancrazi and her becoming aware of what I do at MCASY she referred a local news person for information I could provide about statistics of the installation.  Again this reflects back on the concept of being known for what you can do for others and not just being known.

Another highlight from my time participating in the New Leader Program came from my 30-day rotational assignment with Ms. Shirley Beyer, Human Resources Office, EEO/Training/Leadership Development for MCASY.   The self awareness of subtle prejudices and how much they can impact others without even realizing it is being done was an area that I learned a lot about.  Especially the self awareness – I am as guilty as the next person in displaying these subtle prejudices.   For example: by referring to all my co-works as ladies instead of as co-workers, my boss may feel slighted as he is a male.  Another term I learned from the second week of classes is “micro-iniquities” which relates to this very subject.  During my 30-day assignment Ms. Beyer had me write an article about this subject for our Civilian Leadership Development (CLD) monthly newsletter.   After the article came out it was great to realize it made an impact on others aboard the installation as I kept hearing the word “micro-inequity” used in various sections.

A third area of growth has been in the area of accountability especially with time management.   One of the best tools I’ve grown into is the “two-minute rule” as described by David Allen in Getting Things Done.   If a task takes less than two minutes to do – do it right away. This, along with keeping a “to do” list, has helped me organize my day better and get more accomplished.   Attending the Real Colors/Real Stress Workshop presented by Gail Perry, MCCS Prevention & Education Coordinator had enabled me to grow at home and work because it has educated me on different personality types.  Knowing what a person’s personality type (co-worker, spouse, or child) helps me to better understand how they will react to a situation and I in turn can respond in a way that will be beneficial to all of us.

Overall, I have felt myself grow in different areas and have seen it reflected in my work environment as I have watched others use information I have provided in working with others.

The Global Leadership Summit presented by the Willow Creek Association presented several guest speakers with great reminders about leadership.  For example Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State from the session No Higher Honor: A Life of Leadership said “every life is worthy, capable of greatness and equal”.   She also emphasized that as a leader the “greatest thing you can do for a person is give them control of their life”.  A few key learning’s from The Strongest Link session by Craig Groesche, Founder and Senior Pastor, are:

• Believe in the next generation

• If you’re not dead then you’re not done

• Don’t just delegate tasks but delegate authority (tasks creates followers, authority creates leaders)

• Authenticity trumps cool

• Invest in those that come behind you

• Honor builds, dishonor tears down

There were so many concepts that I learned during this experience that I could go on for pages and pages.  Participating in the New Leader Program has been one of the most positive learning experiences I’ve had that has contributed to a vast increase of knowledge, skills and awareness.   Not only has participating in this program benefitted me personally but as I said in the beginning the Marine Corps places an emphasis on “growing their own leaders”, attending any of the leadership development programs will enhance you and benefit MCAS Yuma directly by:  providing education and opportunity for developing leadership skills, retention, causes a ripple effect as knowledge is shared with others, encourages participants to invest more in the organization, enables participant to learn about other areas of the organization, can lead to cross-training in other areas which would make the participant a more valuable/useable  employee.  If you are interested in participating in the Civilian Leadership Development Program or want more information about any of the Leadership Development Programs contact Shirley Beyer at or (928) 269-2302

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