By Chuck Walker
MOBILE, Ala. – One of the goals of the Mobile District’s Leadership Development Program is to expose future leaders to different leadership styles and the importance of getting their people working as a team to accomplish tasks, and provide on-time, on-budget products to customers.
During their visit to the Tyndall Project Office, the LDP class had the opportunity to see how district leaders at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, are tackling the huge undertaking of rebuilding the installation, after it was destroyed during Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Tyndall project leaders guided them through how their office, in partnership with the Air Force, is meeting the task of the rebuild. They were able to see different projects that are currently under construction, and witness firsthand the base mission, as they observed Tyndall AFB’s bi-annual Checkered Flag Exercise.
“We wanted to expose them to the leadership approach of the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) Program Office,” said Steven Daniels, Chief of the Tyndall Program Integration Office. “We stressed the importance of a vision as a leader and gave them examples of the mission statement for the Tyndall Program Office ‘Our mission is to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base with uncommon excellence while prioritizing people, partnerships, and proactive problem solving,’ which is hanging on the wall in our conference room.”
What made the trip valuable for the LDP students is the opportunity to see firsthand how grand the Tyndall rebuild is and how it is being done from scratch following the storm.
“The intent for the Mobile District LDP visit to Tyndall was not only an exposure to the magnitude and complexity of the program, but also the leadership challenges encountered as we stood-up a new Area Office,” said Brendan Kight, Area Engineer. “We designed strategies to execute the $3 Billion plus workload and tackled numerous pre and post award issues.”
Jennifer Jacobson, Environment and Resources Branch chief and Mobile LDP lead, said the visit was invaluable to the students as they could see how all the aspects of leadership can be used to tackle any task, big or small.
“For several students, this was their first exposure to a military project,” Jacobson said. “The Tyndall rebuild is such a massive undertaking, requiring not only strong leadership skills to execute, but extensive communication, scheduling and transparency to ensure our military can continue its vital mission at this base. Not only did I want to expose them to these types of leaders, but also further have them understand the importance of their current and future roles contributing to a larger comprehensive effort.”
Valerie Morrow, Engineering technical lead and LDP Student said being exposed to the different leadership styles of the leaders they talked to and their advice will be something that she implement as she moves forward in her career.
“The different leaders emphasized how they were able to really focus on their people and create a culture where people really want to come to work,” Morrow said. “I feel that is something that I will take forward in the future as a leader, finding a way to lead from my seat.”
Another student, Josephine Bochiechio-Pace, Construction scheduler, said what impressed her the most about the visit to Tyndall and talking with the leaders, is how all of them, despite being from different branches of the military and agencies, worked together to solve problems.
“What I’m going to take to my future jobs is learning to partner with other agencies and organizations and that you need to partner with them to complete such a complex project,” said Bochiechio-Pace. “They told us you need to listen and understand what your customer is looking for. Because if you don’t seek to understand what they need, you can’t meet their needs. As USACE, we need to understand our customers, to deliver the best product so that they will come back to us in the future.”
Daniels said the main objective he wanted the LDP students to walk away from the visit with was an understanding of what it takes to be a leader.
“We wanted the students to understand the critical components of being a good leader,” Daniels said. First is culture. You have to create the culture of excellence. Second, is organize. You have to hire good people and put them in the right role. Third, is develop. You have to develop the capabilities of the individual and team. Fourth, is empower. You have to give your team the decision-making ability to influence outcomes. And finally, Deliver. You must deliver high quality, on-time, and on-budget.”