The Emerging Enterprise Leader Program
The U.S. Army Africa Emerging Enterprise Leader program is a leadership development program that is designed to provide employees with the broadening experiences necessary for their future success within the Army. The yearlong program is open to Army civilians ranked GS/GG 7-12 and was formed as a result of Army Directive 2017-14, to establish an Army enterprise-wide talent management program.
The program’s objective is to inspire, motivate and develop the next generation of Army enterprise leaders and encourage them to develop a full understanding of the Army’s vision and mission.
The recently completed pilot year for USARAF’s EEL program kicked off in 2018, with a rigorous application and selection process. A panel consisting of senior civilian and military personnel convened to review resumes, applications and references from supervisors and career program managers. Next, in person interviews were conducted with each EEL applicant.
Of the applicants, three individuals were selected for the first EEL cohort: Sarah Galvin, assigned to the G8; Kristen Clark, assigned to G5 Operations Research and Systems Analysis; and Eric Doro, assigned to the Deputy Chief of Staff, Engineer. The three participants met for the first time at the EEL orientation and continued to collaborate throughout the year.
Four modules required to develop competencies
The EEL program requires participants to complete four modules within the year to help them develop 15 prescribed competencies. Each module, which included a mentorship program, self-guided professional development, team-based problem solving and a developmental assignment, was designed to enhance a number of these competencies.
In order to complete the first module, each participant was assigned a mentor. The mentors chosen were senior leaders within the command and were available to meet throughout the year to give guidance, inspiration, motivation and enlightenment to their mentees.
For at least one participant, this module not only helped her develop competencies, it also served as motivation throughout the second module, self-guided professional development.
“Another example of a competency that I developed over the year is continual learning. As part of the mentoring module, we were required to read a book with our mentor,” Clark said. “This quickly turned into reading multiple books and ended with the (chief of staff of the Army’s) reading list, which I am probably going to need another couple years to get through.
The second module of self-guided professional development included customized self-study, including attendance at leadership schools, in-house trainings and at other events that the participants felt would be beneficial in advancing their career.
Galvin found this module particularly valuable because she felt it provided her access to trainings that might not otherwise have been accessible to her at her current rank.
“As a GS-7, there are not as many leadership opportunities available (to me), but the EEL program opened doors, allowing me to add to my toolkit of knowledge,” she said. “I was able to go on three schools TDYs and attended seven courses, to include master resiliency training, a certified knowledge management course, emotionally intelligent leaders, fundamentals of writing, leadership communication, interpersonal communications and decision making.”
Participants worked together as a team on an assigned project for the program’s third module. The project entailed writing the “Lion Standard,” a USARAF regulation regarding logistical support for locations in Africa.
For Eric Doro, the process of setting deadlines and coordinating with fellow EEL participants, as well as with the project sponsor and program manager, was as valuable in developing competencies as was actually writing the document. The team had to successfully plan time together to work on the project, taking into account their varying schedules and professional commitments. They also had to communicate effectively with the project’s sponsor and manager when it became clear expectations needed to be adjusted.
“Initially, we were given four weeks to complete a draft product,” Doro said. “However when looking at our schedules, including TDYs and other work commitments, it was clear it was an unreasonable task. I set out to make a plan of action and milestones on how to complete the project, and we submitted it to the project sponsor and program manager to negotiate an extension of the deadline. By coming in prepared with logical and rational discussion, we were able to easily influence and negotiate an extended deadline.”
Doro said that the group challenge required the cohort to leverage their strengths to ensure each member’s time and energy was used in the most productive way, enabling them develop a product that was well received when it was briefed to the G4.
The fourth and most integral module was the developmental assignment, in which the participants were able to serve an internship with a different department to broaden their professional knowledge, perspective and experience within the organization.
Clark felt that her internship with the Knowledge Management Office, broadened her understanding of the entire USARAF enterprise.
“My work on a project that impacted all staff sections in USARAF helped me to see how decisions are made and processes implemented throughout the command,” she said. “This knowledge will serve me well as I transition back into my job after this rotation.”
Galvin also considered her internship among the most valuable of the EEL program modules, citing the opportunity to work with the Security Cooperation Directorate team to plan and execute an event on the continent as pivotal in developing her understanding of the organization, as well as building external awareness of what USARAF does as a command.
“During my tenure with SCD, I was able to partner with the different sections of the team by moving from one section to another,” she said. “I grew team-building skills as I worked with different groups on different pieces of the Southern Regional Leaders Seminar, which took place in Botswana, (and brought) Southern African leaders together to address their common issues.
“During my developmental assignment, I was able to work with the embassies in sending out the invitations, to having to obtain multiple shots, obtain insurance, learn the APACS system, create trip books and so much more. I was able to witness the culmination of all the hard work by attending the RLS itself.”
Reflections on the 2018 program
At the end of the yearlong program, Clark reflected on the modules and on the competencies that her experience most developed. “Throughout the program, I was given the opportunity to exercise many competencies,” she said. “The most impactful for me was growing in my personal and professional flexibility. As a numbers person, I like to have a very ordered life where my work day is predictable and structured. Throughout the EEL program, I was challenged consistently to be flexible with my time and my mindset by changing schedules, deadlines and requirements. These experiences were frustrating at the time, but resulted in an increase in flexibility as I graduate from the program.”
Doro credited the constant collaboration required in the program with developing his communication skills, which he considers his most improved competencies.
“Throughout the program, we needed to communicate as a cohort internally and externally constantly, especially with an ever-fluid schedule,” he said. “In doing so, I improved my interpersonal skills, especially my non-verbal communication. During one out brief, a suggestion was made that I did not agree with, and without saying a word I had communicated that to the entire group, and was called out for it. I learned from that point on, I have to be much more deliberate with the messages I was sending, whether directly or indirectly.”
The way ahead
Throughout the program, the cohort provided feedback and suggestions on how to sustain and improve for future cohorts.
Three main items were incorporated into the design of the 2019 program that had not previously existed. First, participants will now be given the option of choosing a mentor that they already have a working relationship with or who has expertise in a field or function that they want to learn more about. Previously, participants chose from a list of volunteers. Choosing their own mentor would allow participants the opportunity to create or deepen relationships that align better with their interests.
Similarly, the participants will now be more fully integrated into the process of choosing a team project. As emerging leaders, the participants have insight into command level problems that could be considered for action in the team-based problem solving module. Additionally, choosing a project that the participants are passionate about, familiar with and that benefits the command will arguably result in a better final product.
Finally, the 2018 participants suggested an expansion of the mentoring module for the future cohorts to include a period of senior leader job shadowing. At our level, we do not often have the opportunity to witness the day-to-day decision making of a senior leader and insight into this part of leadership would be invaluable for participants and will be a part of the 2019 program.