The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Leadership Development Program (NLDP) 2022 cohort is underway with 84 NAVAIR employees and one Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) employee finishing the first of four core leadership courses in Orlando, Florida, and Lakehurst, New Jersey.

NLDP is NAVAIR’s flagship program intended to provide mid-to-senior grade employees the opportunity to broaden their leadership, management, organizational knowledge and “world view,” while establishing valuable networks with peers and senior leadership. The two- to three-year program is comprised of classroom-based leadership training and mentoring, job shadowing, networking and developmental assignments.  

Participants in the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP) 2022 cohort during three sessions held this fall at Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) in Orlando, Florida, and at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

According to John Meyers, executive director, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), in Orlando, “The first class is designed to help participants understand the big picture of NAVAIR and help them grow their network across it.”

Titled, Leadership Orientation and Foundational Training (LOFT), the first of four classes guides participants through understanding personal, team, and counter-productive conflict and how to create ways to manage conflict, examine unconscious biases, recognize the “Emergenetics” of four thinking and three behavior attributes and create an Individual Development Plan (IDP), among other topics.  

Wanting to learn and develop all aspects of his leadership skills, Joe Pham, assistant program manager for Test and Evaluation (T&E) in PMA-265 signed up for the cohort and finished the first course in Orlando.

“I really enjoyed the training and the connections that I made,” Pham said. “My initial thoughts are that I could apply some of the leadership, conflict resolution and Emergenetics behavioral and thinking attributes that I learned in class to my work. I have also exchanged emails with some of the cohort members to leverage each other’s work knowledge and experience.”

“Having a full week away from the office is a great way to get a break from the whirlwind of the day-to-day and focus on our own development,” said fellow participant Lisa Roberson, senior organizational development specialist for Human Capital Management Group.

She found networking with fellow participants to be the most beneficial. “I think the networking is a great way to break down any walls between sites, whether perceived or real, and support an “All One Team” mindset,” she said. “Also, touring NAWCTSD’s facilities and getting to see the cool work they do was awesome.”

Participants in the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP) 2022 cohort during three sessions held this fall at Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) in Orlando, Florida, and at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Erskine “Goody” Goodman, strategic deputy program manager, PMA-272 Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems, agreed regarding the importance of the networking aspect of the training.

“The face-to-face interaction with the FY22 cohort is vital to building relationships and networking,” he said. “Our cohort quickly established a bond with one another, created a Teams Channel and continue to keep in touch. We are looking forward to the next training event.”

Fellow participant Jonathan Foster, MQ-9 avionics lead engineer, agreed. “On the first morning, I entered the lobby of the hotel and sparked up some discussions with the group,” he said “Immediately, I knew I had instant access to a plethora of skill sets and leaders that would help develop my own leadership skills and assist with barriers I may face.”

John “JP” Powell, F-35 support equipment branch head, immediately applied the skills learned from LOFT into his daily activities.

“I used 360-degree feedback to tailor my IDP and personal goals,” he said. “I practice Emergenetics at nearly every possible interaction each day and I am more aware than ever on how to anticipate and prevent counter-productive conflict.”

Meyers and Kathleen Donnelly, executive director, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), Lakehurst, New Jersey, both spoke to the class about the priorities of their respective sites.

“There are three groups of 25 to 30 participants and we alternate between Orlando and Lakehurst,” Meyers said. The first NLDP class included three sessions this fall from which participants could choose: Oct. 24-28 and Dec. 5-9 at NAWCTSD in Orlando and Nov. 14-18 at NAWCAD in Lakehurst.

The NLDP program is part of an ongoing command commitment to developing leaders at all levels. It aims to professionally enhance the workforce leadership, managerial talent and productivity skills in employees.

According to Powell, “I think NLDP will provide personal and professional growth, will help me to inspire and motivate others and will teach me to sharpen my problem-solving skills,” he said. “This leadership program will unlock a network of talent and diversity that will serve as a tool for knowledge and information sharing. I anticipate NLDP will open the aperture on this phase of my career and help me grow into a positive organizational leader.”

Annie Hutson, business operations director, Spectrum Warfare Department, will apply the skills she has learned in her daily interactions and team building initiatives and strategies. For the next step in her career, she plans to move to another senior leadership position. The information she has learned is “vital in not only my current role, but any future roles I will assume.”

Meyers said there is a misperception that the program is equivalent to a full time job.

“It is not,” he said. “Over three years, participants in the program take two classes per year that are located in Washington, D.C. and at various sites across NAVAIR, including Naval Air Warfare Center Weapon Division (NAWCWD); one of the Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC); NAWCAD Lakehurst and NAWCTSD Orlando. Part of the curriculum requires participants to complete annual shadow assignments with a senior leader. I actually suggest three or four shadow assignments. Then, towards the end of the curriculum, they complete a rotational assignment.”

According to Donnelly, “It’s important that we continue to push ourselves outside our comfort zone and grow our skillsets, even though it may be more comfortable to stay in the current roles we are familiar with.”

Her message to employees: “Develop your career. Keep expanding your horizons through training and professional development classes. Find a mentor and be a mentor. If you don’t have a mentor, seek one out. Especially someone who is different than you. An outside perspective can help you excel in new ways.”

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