NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 16, 2021) –U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Nashville District employees graduated from the 2021 Nashville District Leadership Development Program II on September 14th. The evening graduation ceremony was held at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Graduates and their families came together with USACE leadership to celebrate this milestone in their blossoming careers.
Sara Wiles, Civil Designs geologist, said she used this opportunity to strengthen her leadership skills and develop her career.
“When I decided to put in my application to take LDP II I did it because I knew I wanted to keep moving up the chain and get more experience, and I knew LDP II is one of those schools that is really important for that.”
Graduates had the opportunity to share what they learned from the program and how it has helped them grow their confidence and leadership skills.
William Terry, Nashville District Water Resource Section Chief, said “I think coming through this class has been a great opportunity for me to discover who I am as a leader, my strengths, and my weaknesses. What’s my default when I communicate with my team and other people around me as well as understanding how other people process information and how I can use that as a leader to help coach them and help them through difficult challenges that we may face.”
The yearlong program covered several different leadership techniques and gave participants a chance to self-reflect and critically analyze their leadership techniques to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Sondra Abanto, Nashville District Program Branch program analyst, said, “This program is about building the individual while at the same time it’s about strengthening the team and breaking you out of your comfort zone taking you from the nest you’ve built and teaching you how to really fly.”
LDP II participants gained valuable insight on topics like handling difficult discussions with higher ranking officials, delivering successful “elevator speeches,” encouraging subordinates to communicate during high stress situations, and “leading from the rear” to encourage more comradery amongst their team.
Timothy Dodson, archeologist, Regulatory Division, said these new leadership skills have help him identify the most effective ways to approach tough workplace situations.
“In this class we learned that we have so many different value systems and ways of interpreting and processing data,” said Dodson, “just because I think I’m clear, in my own mind, doesn’t mean that I’m effectively communicating it to reach the greater audience, or convince people to buy into a productive idea and get on board.”
Nashville District Commander Lt. Col Joe Sahl awarded the graduates with a certification of completion for their hard work and efforts.
“It’s been great to see our current leaders and future leaders take on this commitment to grow and learn these vital leadership skills not just to improve their own personal sections but the overall enterprise. They dedicated themselves to this year long course on top of the responsibilities and duties they already had,” said Sahl, “the investment that the corporate board has made speaks volumes about the leaders we have in this district.”
Graduates not only plan on exercising these new modes of effective communication, but they also plan on teaching these critical skills to their team.
“One of the most important things I’ll do with this new knowledge is to take it back to my team and help to train them for the future,” said Terry, “In retrospect, there’s a big difference between management and leadership and I think that has been good to explore as we’ve gone through this program.”
At the end of the course, LDP participants conducted an after-action review which allowed them to collectively analyze what they took away from the program and share their favorite parts of the course.
Some LDP graduates are leaving this program and moving on to different districts where they can apply their recently gained knowledge.
“In the last three years I’ve been with the Corps, I’ve taken LDP I and LDP II which have changed the way I communicate across the board,” said David Maxwell, Nashville District Realty Specialist, “as I move from this district to a new one, I will take these tools with me and hopefully be a better communicator and leader for the enterprise.”
The LDP II course has helped graduates break out of their normal routines and expand their comfort zone so they’re better prepared for the unexpected situations that come with being an effective leader.
“Through a lot of self-reflection and introspection, team building, and problem solving we really got to challenge ourselves to do the things that make us the most uncomfortable because when things scare you it’s a great opportunity for the greatest growth,” said Abanto.
Although some of the graduates will go back and work their way into more critical leadership roles within their sections, a few of them plan on applying the newly acquired skills to the positions they already hold.
Crystal Tingle, Old Hickory Lake resource manager said, “Stepping into this program I had a lot of supervisory experience so I wasn’t sure exactly what I would get out of this program but the more I went through it the more I realized every leader— every great leader, needs to learn new things and develop so no matter where you’re at in your career it’s always important to keep moving forward and grow so we can make ourselves better, those around us better, and the organization.”
Completion of LDP II enables participants to take on more responsibilities throughout the Nashville District and pass on their knowledge to their teams.
Tingle said, “I want to thank all our leadership for the time and effort they put into this program because it wasn’t just an investment for the organization, it was an investment in all of us who graduated this program and I’m grateful for that.”
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on 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.)