ACC-RI senior leaders share experiences from leadership training course | Article

ACC-RI senior leaders share experiences from leadership training course | Article

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois (May 30, 2024




Jeremy Miller (top row, second from right), Michele Ross (third row, third from right) and Amanda Moeller (bottom row, second from right), attend Leadership Development Program in San Diego, California.




Jeremy Miller (top row, second from right), Michele Ross (third row, third from right) and Amanda Moeller (bottom row, second from right), attend Leadership Development Program in San Diego, California.
(Photo Credit: Submitted photo)

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Participants from the CCL Leadership Development Program, Mark Bailey, Rachel Phelps, Lori Zarkovacki, and Joel Trimmer, took time for a photo at the CCL campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Submitted photo)




Participants from the CCL Leadership Development Program, Mark Bailey, Rachel Phelps, Lori Zarkovacki, and Joel Trimmer, took time for a photo at the CCL campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Submitted photo)
(Photo Credit: Submitted Photo)

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) – Senior leaders from Army Contracting Command – Rock Island participated in an executive training course through the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in the second quarter of 2024. This weeklong training was conducted in small group sessions and the team went to either San Diego, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; or Greenville, North Carolina, to attend the training. Also in attendance were executives from a wide variety of industry including manufacturing, healthcare, and service organizations.

Heidi Schultz, program manager with the Strategic Human Capital Team, shared the overall intent of this new program called LEAD, which stands for the Lead, Engage, Agile, Development Program, and is the final step of the Strategic Human Capital workforce development training tools, mandated from Headquarters as part of the ACC Leadership Development Program released in January of 2018. ACC-RI started the leadership development program with the New Supervisor Boot Camp approximately four years ago and added the Team Lead Orientation two years ago. This is the final piece to the leadership development training ladder.

“ACC-RI has amazing contracting professionals. They have outstanding technical skills in writing and executing complex and diverse contracts for which we have trained them over many years,” said Schultz.

“However, if they are really good, we promote them to positions that take them away from those technical requirements and select them for positions that now require them to lead others and change their focus from contracting expertise to people skills and leadership expertise.”

Until recently, ACC-RI did not provide any specific training in this people-side skillset as it had for technical skillsets. Schultz explained that this unintentionally set up leaders to struggle in their new position and either get lucky and figure it out themselves or potentially fail.

“The leadership training ladder we are executing allows our workforce to start small with a team, grow into a branch, and potentially become highly qualified senior leaders with ample training and expertise to effectively lead others, communicate mission and vision, and engage all individuals for the success of the center,” said Schultz.

Schultz explained that over the last year or so, the organization realized there were now programs at the team lead and branch chief level, but nothing programmatically for the senior leader level.

“The LEAD program started with a training on transformational communication,” said Schultz. “Next, we scheduled leaders for the CCL training, and this has been followed with individual executive coaching and monthly team focused projects for implementation in the center.”

“We plan to culminate this leadership development with a two-day off-site workshop with certified facilitators, sometime late this summer,” said Schultz. “This will wrap together their learning and practice regarding communication and leadership.”

“This initiative has been passionately led by Ms. [Linda] Armer, our executive director,” said Schultz. “Her desire was to provide leadership training for her senior leader team that they had not had the opportunity to be part of in the past. It is a newly developed program with the assistance of the Strategic Human Capital Team. We did the research and presented options to Ms. Armer, and she executed on the topics she felt were most critical to the center’s success.”

One of the participants, Rachel Phelps, division chief of the Acquisition Center of Excellence Division, explained that this training was a great investment for the organization.

“All of the senior leaders are going through the same training and learning a common vocabulary to be able to work better together to achieve our goals,” said Phelps. “This will make us all better communicators and our message to the workforce will be consistent between divisions. We are able to share all of the different lessons learned, what we got out of the various training programs, and as we apply what we learn, and using that common vocabulary we can execute more effectively and hold each other accountable to the main points of what we are trying to work towards, together.”

Phelps, who attended her training in Colorado Springs, stated that the CCL program was a very individualized and unique leadership development program because each person who completes the training develops their own goals and outcomes and will have their own perspective and understanding of what they got out of the program, which may be very different from the outcomes another individual gained out of the program.

“The reason this program is so effective and helpful is because it focuses on us as individuals and helps determine where each of us are at on our leadership journey,” said Phelps. “The biggest focus across the leadership team is always how we can work more effectively together and improve our teamwork for the betterment of the organization as a whole.”

Throughout the week, participants completed role play exercises and various activities with other leaders to help them apply what they learned.

Phelps said that one of her favorite activities was participating in the “Organization Workshop,” which was a lengthy activity, in which they were specifically placed in a specific role within the organization.

“Some people found this exercise very challenging,” said Phelps. “I enjoyed this activity because of where I sat in the organization. It allowed me to experience a different perspective and helped me take a step back and present ideas from a different viewpoint. It was also very entertaining, and I tried to have some fun with it along the way as we learned.”

Phelps added her other favorite parts about this program were the connections that she was able to build with others in a very short amount of time, and the trust they created together to tackle the challenges presented during the rest of the week.

“We built on this trust throughout the week by eating lunch together, going out for dinner, and just getting to know people on a deep level,” said Phelps. “I definitely saw the value of building these relationships. We were able to be very open and vulnerable and share our struggles with each other to get some coaching and ideas. I got a lot of value out of the program.”

Michele Ross, division chief within the Pricing Division, completed her training in San Diego, and said this training impacted her in several ways.

“I was able to take a deep dive in reflecting on my journey and learning more about myself to better understand perspectives, impacts, and how to enhance my leadership approach to positively impact others,” said Ross. “I loved the discussion on ‘burn bright’ instead of ‘burn out’. Time is a finite resource, but energy is resilient. It’s important to set healthy boundaries, operate from your values and passion, and make a lasting impact without sacrificing your health, happiness, and relationships.”

Ross plans on applying what she learned from the training with her team by sharing concepts and applications.

“One of the concepts of improving outcomes has been introduced to the branch chiefs for us to put into practice as a leadership team and introduce to the division,” said Ross. “We are focusing on the method of direction, alignment, and commitment and the importance in obtaining desired outcomes. You need all three to get the results you desire – the direction is the agreement on what we are trying to achieve together; alignment is the effective coordination and integration of work, so it fits together; and commitment is the willingness to make the success of the collective a personal priority.”

A workforce with robust training at specific levels directly supports ACC-RI’s recently updated mission and vision statements. In November 2023, the center’s leaders signed the new mission statement (Execute agile, innovative and mission focused contracting solutions on a global scale, while developing a premier Acquisition Professional workforce) and vision statement (Rapidly meet the Nation’s challenges by leveraging a resilient workforce that embraces change, develops solutions that break through barriers, delivering superior acquisitions and sound business advice.) The next step is for the center’s leaders to put these new tools into action.