New training continuum replaces petty officer selectee leadership courses

Sailors attend a frocking ceremony in the hangar bay of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

The Navy announced an overhaul to its approach to enlisted leadership training, transitioning to junior Sailor development courses that focus on building character, Aug. 7, in NAVADMIN 185/19.

This series of formal courses for E-3 to E-6 Sailors, known as Enlisted Leader Development (ELD), began April 2019, and will eventually be required for advancement.

The ELD training continuum replaces the Navy’s current petty officer selectee leadership courses. The new material focuses on character, ethics, self-awareness, navigating stress, decision-making and what it means to be part of the profession of arms.

“None of us has all of the answers at any point in our career,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russ Smith. “It’s important for us to learn in a formal training environment where we can share a multitude of experiences and lessons learned with each other.”

The overhaul comes as the result of a working group established nearly two years ago consisting of a half dozen command master chiefs from senior Navy commands. The group evaluated Navy’s leadership training through the prism of character, to see how the current coursework helped to develop that critical leadership quality.

A key change in this curriculum is that classes are not meant to be delivered immediately prior to a promotion, but as periodic, deliberate investments – once every three to five years – in the Navy’s enlisted leaders.

It is not too ambitious to think that these courses and the lessons learned by Sailors may influence the future fabric of the Navy, according to Command Master Chief Jeff Owejan of the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center (NLEC) in Newport, Rhode Island which is leading the overhaul effort.

“Fundamentally, we’re teaching Sailors how to be a better person through many of the topics we teach,” said Owejan. “Sailors who are given an opportunity for active reflection in a professional learning environment, and who are aligned with our values and our culture, are going to perform at a higher level.”

The courses are short in duration but high in impact, and directly support the mentoring already conducted in the workplace. The average class size of 16 enables an interactive, adult learning environment using case studies and small-group discussion.

The new courses will be taught by certified facilitators and Sailors will largely leave their everyday work environment – whether it’s the ship, flight line or field – to receive the new curriculum in a school-like setting. This is an intentional change to encourage cross-pollination of ideas and experiences shared by Sailors from other communities.

“The certified instructors will lead the coursework and dialogue in a manner that is conducive to positive culture changes as we lead and learn from our Sailors,” said Smith. “Focusing on character development in this setting will better prepare our teams for the high-end fight at sea.”

The courses offered include:

  • Foundational Leader Development Course (FLDC) for E-3 to E-4 Sailors
  • Intermediate Leader Development Course (ILDC) for E-5 Sailors
  • Advanced Leader Development Course (ALDC) for E-6 Sailors
  • Chief Petty Officer Leader Development Course (CPOLDC) currently in development
  • Command Navy Leader Development Facilitator (C-NLDF) course, which trains E-7 and above to teach the FLDC, ILDC and ALDC courses
  • Master Navy Leader Development Facilitator Course to train senior enlisted Sailors to certify command-level facilitators

The current selectee leadership courses have been discontinued and replaced by FLDC, ILDC and ALDC. Commands should review the additional information on the MyNavy Portal (MNP) ELD page to schedule appropriate classes for facilitator certification, Sailor attendance or to host a course.

For more information on ELD, or to search for course availability, visit: https://www.mnp.navy.mil/group/training-education-qualifications/enlisted-leader-development.