Wright-Patt program cultivates leadership capabilities

  • Published
  • By Amy Rollins
  • Skywrighter Staff

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio- A five-month tactical leadership program designed to develop current and prospective leaders at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is continuing this year, despite the challenges of a virtual environment.

LEADership (Learned, Enthusiastic, Committed, Dedicated) Wright-Patt kicked off in February for a total of 10 two-day virtual sessions so participants may get an introduction to senior leaders and gain training, networking and exposure to supporting base organizations.

Participants develop an awareness of WPAFB’s missions, visions, goals, priorities, values and purpose to enable them to become exceptional leaders who serve the base and surrounding community, according to the Education and Training Section’s program description.

“LEADership Wright-Patt will take its participants through tailored organizational mission briefs, training, individualized work groups, panel discussions, direct interaction with WPAFB leadership, and a variety of programmed activities focusing on the global perspective of WPAFB,” it continues.

The program’s 23 civilian employees have a minimum of three and no more than 10 consecutive years of service in the grade of WS 9-10 (445th Airlift Wing), GS 11-13 (or equivalent) or military in the rank of master sergeant, senior master sergeant, captain or major. Consideration is given to a balance of civilian and military.

Participants virtually experience a “day in the life” of various base organizations: 88th Air Base Wing; Air Force Materiel Command; Air Force Installation Contracting Center; Air Force Research Laboratory; Air Force Life Cycle Management Center; Air Force Institute of Technology; 445th Airlift Wing; 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing; National Air and Space Intelligence Center; and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, said Jessica Falcon, a human resources specialist with the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Workforce Development Section.

The program also includes networking, mentors and a senior leader panel, she said.

“LEADership Wright-Patt concludes with capstone projects presented by the participants with topics inspired and provided by the AFMC We Need initiative,” said LWP program manager Sherita Smith.

So far, the group has received briefings from Col. Patrick Miller, 88 ABW and installation commander, and Gregory Leingang, the wing’s deputy director. Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, Patricia Young and Lt. Gen. Carl Schaefer are among other WPAFB senior leaders set to speak before the leadership program ends in June.

Key individuals from around the base were tapped to serve as LWP instructors, including Chief Master Sgt. Keith Erb Jr., the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight’s chief enlisted manager and a first-time teacher.

“I facilitated a session about self-awareness and how that relates to leadership and communication,” he said. “We had the students take the PDP ProScan Survey, which measures behavioral strengths. As leaders, it’s critical to understand that everyone is unique and brings different strengths to the team. The better we understand ourselves and others, the better we can leverage our diversity.”

A current participant is Dave Ghysels, program manager for the Production Operations Integrated Product Team in AFLCMC’s VC-25B Program Office (the new Air Force One).

“I think I will benefit from this program by learning from different people in different programs – how they interact both up and down the chain and how to communicate more clearly as an employee and as a future leader,” he said.

Wright-Patt organizations will benefit from this program by making qualified personnel aware of base missions and opportunities.

“I have already seen participants in the LEADership Wright-Patt program express interest in jobs within different organizations,” Ghysels said. “This will allow for experienced people to work in those organizations, bringing in different breadths of knowledge and experience.

“This is an excellent opportunity to grow knowledge both relevant to work experience as well as bringing to light the different missions we as an Air Force have to serve our country.”

Another participant, Shauntay Alexander, a logistics manager in AFLCMC’s Simulators Division, said her initial expectations of the program have far been exceeded.

“My thought going into this was simply to learn more about the various tenants of WPAFB, their missions and possibly what type of leaders they may be seeking,” she added. “We’re just short of halfway through, and I have developed an arsenal of additional tools to assist me in strengthening my leadership skills, including strategic thinking and planning, increasing emotional intelligence, and communicating with and rallying a team in challenging working environments such as those in which are currently presented like COVID-19.

“Great leaders create great teams while inspiring and developing future leaders. It’s cyclical: The more we empower our people and offer resources to develop their professional/personal/leadership skills, the greater our return – a workforce with an abundance of strong dedicated leaders and members ready to serve.”

Marcia Sanders, a 2016 inaugural LEADership Wright-Patt alumna and AFRL management analyst, said she can’t think of a better way to pick up a few leadership tools and learn all about the organizations and programs at work on Wright-Patt.

“I gained a wealth of knowledge about many of the organizations on base, how they all fit or work together, and the products and services that WPAFB organizations provide,” she added. “This program can provide those with leadership aspirations with a great understanding of base organizations. The benefit to the organizations is the exposure to possible new talent that otherwise may have been missed.”

Michael King, an 88 FSS/ Workforce Development human resources specialist and 2018 alumnus, said networking with different people from different organizations was a benefit.

“To me, the connections you make are the most important,” he said.

Sylvia Becker, director of strategic communication and a change management specialist within the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s global enterprise, said the program is beneficial for recruiting future Wright-Patt leaders and rotational opportunities. She helped arrange for an AFICC virtual tour for participants.

“It provides a glimpse at those ‘a-ha’ items that make an organization great and educate students interested in that field by gaining an understanding of how the many facets of the WPAFB mission plays apart in what we do individually and collectively,” Becker said.