By Andrea Stone

Leadership development is an integral part of any organization, and the Department of the Army civilian workforce at Fort Carson is no different.

The Leadership Drives Results and Success (LDRS) Academy grew out of the need to develop a program to foster leadership skills locally.

“[U.S. Army Installation Management Command] offers many leadership programs, but you go away for them,” said Michele Magrini, Workforce Development Program manager, Directorate of Human Resources. “[This] allows people to participate in a leadership course that doesn’t take them away from their families.”

The 5-year-old program, which starts in the fall and lasts six months, is an opportunity for civilian employees to learn leadership skills such as networking, problem solving, conflict resolution and management and public speaking.

Training is provided by senior leaders on post in addition to outside resources such as Colorado Technical University, the University of Phoenix, DeVry University and Dale Carnegie Training.

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“Now when something comes up … they know who they can call to help resolve it instead of always asking their direct supervisor to solve their problems,” said Kim Henry, Military Personnel Division chief.

Strong supporter

In both her current position and previous position as manager of the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP), Henry encouraged her staff to participate in the academy.

“You send your people to learn leadership skills because, in the end, it helps to build the person, but it also helps to build the team,” she said. “It helps management, having people develop into leaders. Whether they ever become supervisors, it doesn’t matter. They’re getting the skill set that’s needed. You invest in your people. Human capital is the No. 1 thing in any organization, whether it’s the Army or Nike.”

One of Henry’s employees at ASAP, Anthony McCollin, participated in the academy in 2013. The most useful thing he learned was how to deal with different personality types.

“You have to understand personalities, and I think in the workforce, even in the Army, if you know peoples’ personalities, and you’re able to readjust your leadership styles to those different personalities, it would make your job a lot easier, and it would make your subordinates a lot happier,” he said.

Participants are selected through an application process that requires both direct supervisor and directorate chief approval.

“They are committing to allowing the person to be there,” Magrini said.

The classes are twice a month, but participants are also divided into teams that are responsible for group projects.

“Those working groups have a project that they’re working on, something that would be a positive if it were implemented within the garrison,” she said. “They researched. They interviewed people. They networked outside of the gate, and then they put their proposal together.”

Proposals are then presented to the garrison commander. Ideas from the most recent class included streamlining and reducing mandatory training required of civilians, improving in-processing for civilians and increasing diversity of leaders.

Looking ahead

As the workforce ages, developing leadership skills in younger employees through programs such as the LDRS Academy becomes increasingly important.

“Current managers are probably Baby Boomers … it’s predicted in the next five to 10 years we’ll have a huge gap in the workforce. If you’re not developing people below you to be those leaders, you’re actually doing the organization a disservice,” Henry said. “It’s about the future of every organization. You can’t think about today. You have to think about five, 10, 15 years down the road because I’ll be retired, and they will take my place.”

The benefits of the academy go beyond the workforce, as well.

“It was very beneficial,” McCollin said. “It’s just good information for society, for parenting, for social networking … it’s more than just the workforce. It’s taking the information and adapting it to your life.”

Fort Carson civilian employees interested in applying to attend the LDRS Academy can contact Magrini by email at michele.p.magrini.civ@mail.mil.