MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Systems Command’s leadership development program has undergone structural changes intended to enhance its effectiveness.
Run by MCSC’s Human Capital Management division, Leadership at all Levels is a command-wide initiative intended to cultivate high-performing civilian leaders who can manage change, improve performance and morale, and develop highly effective people and teams.
Everyone from new employees with no leadership background to senior civilian officials with decades of experience can participate in the program.
“Leadership at all Levels provides the skills needed to maximize the effectiveness of employees in their respective roles,” said Lon Crosier, LAAL program manager.
From January to September, program participants take part in a series of leadership development courses intended to improve the command’s performance and culture. Classes emphasize the importance of emotional intelligence, accountability, effective decision-making and more.
The program focuses on Executive Core Qualifications and Fundamental Capabilities, said Crosier. ECQs define the capabilities needed to build a federal corporate culture that drives results, serves customers, and builds successful teams and coalitions within and outside the organization.
Through LAAL, a person can enhance their interpersonal skills, oral and written communication, and motivation to serve the public.
“The courses provide good training and information,” said Theresa Welch, an acquisition manager for Program Executive Officer Land Systems. “You also learn about leadership styles, yourself and others as you work through these courses.”
John Peters, an engineer in MCSC’s Program Manager for Ammunition, was interested in gaining a more comprehensive understanding of different leadership styles when he joined the program. A 2019 LAAL graduate, Peters said the program enabled participants to take classes they find interesting.
“Anyone genuinely interested in improving their leadership approach to the varying situations of a diverse workforce such as Marine Corps Systems Command will benefit from the time investment [in this program],” said Peters.
Benefits of revamped program
LAAL has been in operation since 2015. However, MCSC decided this year to implement changes to the program to better serve participants, which involved reducing the program from two years to nine months to increase efficiency.
Reducing the length of LAAL increases the chance of participants finishing the program and MCSC retaining instructors, said Crosier.
“During the two-year program, instructors changed frequently and funds were withdrawn, causing problems” he said.
A shorter program also means fewer classes. Joyce Hodgson, a senior procurement analyst at Program Executive Officer Land Systems, enjoyed her experience with LAAL when she participated in 2018, but she felt many classes presented the same material in a different way.
“Perhaps a few less classes would accomplish the same goal,” said Hodgson.
Program officials decided to retain ECQ classes that were most applicable for leadership based on feedback from participants, said Crosier. These classes educate employees on ways to lead people, lead change, drive results and build their business acumen.
‘People recognize how you treat them’
Beginning this year, senior military sponsors will speak to participants—another addition to the program. Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, deputy commanding general for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, spoke during the program’s introductory conference in January 2020.
Wise addressed the changes occurring in the Marine Corps and the need for leadership during this critical time. He noted how leadership means having both positive and negative conversations with others. It also means showing respect to colleagues and subordinates.
“I try to talk with people rather than talk at them,” Wise told the crowd. “People recognize how you treat them, and they become a reflection of you.”
Crosier said HCM will evaluate the success of the program’s new model in September to determine if additional changes must be made. Either way, he said LAAL can leave an indelible mark on individuals and increase MCSC’s potential for success.
“I believe leadership is critically important for our mission,” said Crosier. “Looking at many leadership styles of the past, good leadership versus bad leadership is evident. The effects of good leadership are incredible.”