NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 12, 2019) – Sixteen employees with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District graduated today from the first level of the Leadership Development Program during a ceremony at the Scarritt Bennett Center.
Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander, praised the graduates for their accomplishment and willingness to invest the time to enrich themselves and the district.
Avichal said personal growth is important, never stops and is a continual challenge for everyone.
“At this point of your careers you all have proven that you are high performers,” Avichal said. “You have proven that you have the potential. But now there is a change in that mental model of what you define as success.”
The commander told all the graduates that when they endeavor on a project or even have an encounter with an individual, “it’s not about you anymore.”
He told them it’s now time as leaders to allow and help coworkers and subordinates to perform at a high level, and to help them to rise and shine.
“Your success now is about the team success,” Avichal stressed.
During the leadership course, classes were organized into six, two-day training sessions between March 19 and Sept. 12. Travis Wiley and Myles Barton, Nashville District’s administrators for the program, led sessions designed to give participants a broader understanding of the agency as a whole. To accomplish this the students also met with leaders from each division and attended sessions covering the overall mission and day-to-day operations of various offices.
Wiley said the class also visited Corps of Engineers projects, including the Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project in Chattanooga, Tenn., Center Hill Rehabilitation Project in Lancaster, Tenn., and Metro Center Levee in Nashville, Tenn. during field trips.
“The sessions also included exercises focused on public speaking skills and interview techniques,” Wiley said.
Dr. Michael Evans of Evans and Associates, Inc., professional instructor with many years of experience with Corps of Engineers’ LDP groups, worked with the class to enhance professional and leadership skills. Some of the topics he covered included emotional intelligence, mentoring, situational leadership, conflict resolution and time management. He said the curriculum has made the students more attuned leaders.
“This group here really challenged themselves and it was a great opportunity for me to interact with them and to learn from them in this process too,” Evans said.
Evans said he taught the class that in regard to leadership the most important thing is to be self-aware, to remain calm and not to take on the emotions of others.
“I challenge all of you as senior individuals and colleagues and coworkers of these individuals to not do any less than that,” Evans said. “So challenge them if they do behaviors that are not following that model and say, ‘didn’t we pay for you to go to LDP?’ They owe that to you at a minimum.”
During the course, students had to read a book as assigned on various leadership topics, participate in team building exercises, and had to make presentations about themselves, their jobs and the organization.
During the graduation ceremony, each student spoke one by one about what he or she took away from the course of instruction, including technical and personal goals for the future.
Andrew Stanford, engineer in the survey mapping section, said he recently joined the Corps of Engineers and is eager to learn new things, meet new people and understand what the organization tick. He said subjects like emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, how to conduct an effective interview were easy to digest and build on for personal development.
“As far as paying this investment forward that the Corps made into me, it’s incumbent on myself and everybody in the class to make a conscious effort to reflect on what we did here and what we learned, and continue to incorporate that into our work,” he said.
Tiffany Hines, civil engineer in the Hydropower Section, said she gained a lot from the course, especially about the different styles of situational leadership.
“I had the directing and delegating down pat,” Hines said. “But I needed to fine tune my coaching and reporting.”
She also noted how much she benefitted from not owning others emotions, and has already been making use of the strategy in her personal and professional endeavors.
“Just being aware of what is taking place so that I won’t react with my own emotions, but also being supportive by being compassionate empathetic to that other person, has made a difference,” she said.
Wiley said the graduation formally recognizes the students’ accomplishment and culminates the part-time, multi-faceted individual development program designed to systematically develop basic leadership skills of Nashville District employees.
The graduates were Austin Auld, Jon Bartusiak, Kellen Cole, Wes Davenport, Ryan Evans, Dave Funderburk, Curt Hendricks, Hines, Michael Kenyon, Mary Lewis, John Malone, David Maxwell, Bradley Potts, Phillip Sliger, Stanford, and Spencer Taylor.
(For news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District go to the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)