NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. ­ “Every employee should ask themselves one question,” Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) Tom Rudowsky said. “‘What do I want to be credited with after I retire from civil service?’ The answer will shape how you develop and measure yourself throughout your career from that point forward.”

Rudowsky posed that question to potential candidates and their supervisors at a nationwide Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Leadership Development Program (NLDP) Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) Workshop July 9. Rudowsky and AIR 6.0 senior executive service leaders shared their experiences and offered advice on the application process.

NLDP is a three- to five-year program that provides training and educational opportunities to promote personal and professional growth for mid- to senior-level civilians who have demonstrated leadership ability.

Defining a legacy early in a career helps candidates discover what motivates them and can be used to develop responses to the five required ECQs, Rudowsky said. ECQs are personal and professional attributes leaders need to build a successful federal corporate culture as identified by the Office of Personnel Management. Each ECQ has several associated skills and abilities. “Understanding the passion behind why you are serving makes for an engaging NLDP packet and avoids cookie-cutter responses,” he said.

Candidates must include quantifiable examples in response to ECQs using the CCAR framework—Context, Challenge, Action and Result—in 4,000 words or fewer.  “The narratives should describe your leadership skill sets, not your technical abilities,” Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning Sustainment Department (AIR 6.7) Director Tracy Burruss advised.

“Don’t simply list your job accomplishments,” Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department (AIR 6.8) Director Roy Harris said. “Put them in the context of what you do and why it is important. State what the challenge was and the action you took.  Link the results you achieved to the challenge and state if you met or exceeded your expectations.”

“Before describing the action you took to address the issue, let the reviewer know what you were thinking and why you associated the solution with the action,” Rudowsky said. “State ‘I had a couple of thoughts/options’ and list them. Then explain why you chose to implement an action.”

Examples that include how the candidate worked across commands make good stories. “Demonstrating leadership under pressure or conflict is a powerful statement about an applicant’s qualifications,” Rudowsky said. “It’s not just about how you handled conflict but how you avoided it, how you addressed a situation before it occurred.”

AIR 6.0 leadership also advised candidates to get an early start on writing the ECQs and have two or three people review their application.

Master Chief Frank Ragin, AIR 6.0 senior enlisted advisor, attended the workshop. He said Rudowsky’s question about planning for future successes caused him to reflect about his current role and his 26 years in the Navy.  “His question reminded me of the importance of training Sailors to replace me and leaving knowing that I left our organization in a better place.”

For Ann Buckler, who attended the event to get a head start on advancing her career, Rudowsky’s challenge helped her decide to be an advocate for the fleet, beginning with her position in NAVAIR and as a Journey Leadership Development Program participant.

Buckler also wants to improve the acquisition process. “Many in the fleet don’t understand why it takes so long to procure materials,” she said. “NAVAIR must meet congressional mandates for competition and small business objectives as well as consider safety, testing and logistical support requirements, all of which take time. As a champion of process improvement, I aim to play a role in streamlining acquisition within NAVAIR so that the fleet has its needs met sooner.”

Becoming a leader doesn’t start when hired for a senior level position, said Rudowsky, but is part of each person’s day-to-day tasking.  “There is a difference between management and leadership,” he explained. “When things are not going well, leadership is critical.  It requires vision and taking responsibility for a successful outcome.”

Rudowsky encouraged AIR 6.0 employees who meet NLDP criteria to apply, no matter what their background or job experiences. “It’s competitive, but each of you have used leadership skills throughout your career,” he said. “We need leaders at all levels of NAVAIR.”

The application period for 2018 runs from July 9 through Aug. 24.  Interested applicants should contact their competency’s Developmental Program point of contact.