A group of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) leaders learned how to make their figurative gardens grow at a NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP) workshop held at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on Aug. 12-13.
“Letting something grow on its own rarely brings the desired result,” Jones Loflin, author of “Getting the Blue Ribbon,” told 75 employees from NAVAIR sites nationwide in one of the workshop’s interactive learning sessions. “If we are going to get better results, we have to start by being intentional.”
Loflin described a four-step process to achieving better results personally and professionally. Using the analogy of a gardener, he advised listeners to grow, graft, prune and harvest. His key points:
You are growing something every day. What grows and how it grows is up to you.
New ideas, attitudes and actions need to be “grafted” into your work or life to achieve better results. Changing something that is established is rarely easy but is necessary if you want to get something better.
Pruning should be done at the first sign of undesirable outcomes. You sometimes have to say “no” to things of lesser importance so you can say “yes” to things of greater importance.
Celebrating “harvest” moments is a critical step in getting more blue ribbon results. Give yourself the opportunity for small wins frequently.
Loflin previously visited Patuxent River in November 2011 as part of NAVAIR’s Leadership Day, offering solutions to balancing priorities.
“The overall workshop and exercises helped me to better understand and/or look at problem solving from a wider viewpoint by focusing on solving the problem without internalizing or enabling the problem,” said E-2 Deputy Assistant Program Manager (Logistics) Dorene Adams. “This is something that I will try to instill going forward both personally and professionally.”
NLDP participants who, in addition to taking leadership training classes such as this workshop, will partake in job rotational assignments, find mentors, create individual development plans, shadow senior leaders, attend leadership and diversity events, participate in book club discussions and build a professional network. NLDP includes two learning tracks focused on management and continuous process improvement.
The program was recently redesigned to focus on NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. David Dunaway’s 2013-2018 guidance, of which developing future leaders is a key part, and restructured to help participants apply their lessons to their work.
NAVAIR Deputy Commander Garry Newton stressed that NAVAIR takes workforce development seriously and plans to develop a culture of continuous learning.
“The only way we can be stronger is to give you all what you need to grow,” he told employees. “The jobs we have - they matter. The work we do really does matter, even though sometimes we don’t see it right away.”
Deputy Program Manager Helen Wernecke, who joined NLDP in 2010, said, “As Mr. Newton stated in his talk to the group, ‘As we [NAVAIR] get smaller, we have to get smarter,’ and leadership development through NLDP is just one area of the way ahead for our organization.”
During the workshop, employees also learned about Emergenetics - a tool used to analyze individual thinking attributes - and how to use their personal results to explore differences in thinking related to leadership, diversity, change management and interpersonal communication.
“One of the biggest challenges to these developing leaders is not about learning the organization - it’s about leading people through organizational change and being effective and intentional at it,” said NLDP Manager Stephanie Gleason. “Emergenetics prepares NLDP participants to do just that, which affords more time for innovation.”
Employees learned to apply five organizational learning principles to NAVAIR’s mission. These principles, developed by Peter Senge from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Organizational Learning, are personal mastery, building a shared vision, systems thinking, mental models and team learning. Employees also participated in a book club discussion on retention and explored up-and-coming technologies, such as virtual spaces, massive open online courses and social networking.
“It [the workshop] was like a fresh breath of air full of motivation, energy, people and tools that will take all members of the NLDP in the path to lead the future naval enterprise, especially during these continuously changing environments,” said Gina Caudill, head for the Corrosion & Wear and Nondestructive Inspection Branches for NAVAIR’s Materials Engineering Division.
Roland Thorpe, an NLDP participant and the Automated Information Systems IPT lead, agreed.
“As we face the ever-challenging, resource-constrained and fast-paced environment of the future, our leadership efforts and goals will be critical for our success as an organization in continuing to meet the requirements and needs of the warfighter,” he said.
Find out more about NAVAIR’s training and developmental programs at www.navair.navy.mil/training.html.