Walking the Walk: Messages from Session one of the IDEAL Program

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By Sarah Aubouin

Talented, highly qualified professionals are central to the Army Acquisition Workforce. But while technical qualifications are important, we can’t forget about the human connection. We connect with others in the workplace using our emotional intelligence. This means fostering trust, building relationships, being accountable, adaptable and resilient, developing, interpersonal skills, and encouraging respectful, clear communication.

Where, you might be wondering, can I learn those skills? Fortunately, the Army Director, Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office has just the program: Inspiring and Developing Excellence in Acquisition Leaders, or IDEAL. IDEAL is a leadership development program for Army Acquisition Workforce civilians (GS-11 through GS-13 or broadband equivalent) that arms mid-career professionals with the necessary tools to successfully build and lead teams. IDEAL is currently offered in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Warren, Michigan.

The first round of three FY19 IDEAL sessions was held in March and administered by the DACM Office’s Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, which sent a team of instructors to the NCR and Warren. Courses included Leadership 101; Emotional Intelligence; Crucial Conversations; Organizational Trust; Taking Control of Conflict; and Adapting your Leadership.

IDEAL participants in the NCR cohort had an opportunity to hear from acquisition senior leaders at a March 25 event in the Humphreys Engineer Center on Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Ross Guckert, deputy program executive officer (PEO) for Soldier, spoke on a variety of topics, including the value of the human connection in the workplace, emotional intelligence, conflict management, communication skills and building trust. He stressed the power of the professional network. “Your network is huge. I’ll tell you that every job you’ve had is because of your network,” he said. “Don’t underestimate the network.”

Guckert encouraged IDEAL participants to take some risk to move their careers forward. “Don’t be afraid to come out of your comfort zone—you need to do it to broaden yourself,” he said. Guckert also reminded IDEAL students to trust each other. When asked by an IDEAL student to identify some of the ways he establishes trust, Guckert noted the importance of individual, face-to-face engagement. He blocks time on his calendar to make a point of walking around the office to connect with employees, he said, noting, “there are as many personal conversations [in the workplace] as there are professional conversations. These daily face-to-face conversations foster a connection, building successful working relationships with trust as the foundation.

IDEAL participants in the Warren cohort met at the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command at the Detroit Arsenal, and heard from Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, PEO for Ground Combat Systems. During a question and answer session, Cummings relayed his philosophy on leadership and communicated developmental initiatives.

The next two 2019 IDEAL sessions will take place this summer and fall. For more information about the program, go to https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/inspiring-and-developing-excellence-in-acquisition-leaders-ideal/.


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