More than two dozen Center employees participating in the Leadership Development Program Level II spent a day sharpening their teamwork and leadership skills Oct. 23 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The program’s principal learning objectives focus on increasing awareness of individual strengths and enhancing leadership skills by exposing Level II participants to broadening opportunities.
The group experienced the detailed cooperation required to execute a space shuttle mission and performed tasks at Area 51, a land-based leadership training course centered on outdoor challenges and activities that require group communications, leadership and teamwork.
“We chose the U.S. Space & Rocket Center because they are a world-class operation and they are located right here in Huntsville,” said tidya Williams, a workforce development specialist with Huntsville Center’s Business Management Office.
Since the 1994 the U.S. Space &Rocket Center has offered corporate camps with training and development programs tailored to achieve the objectives of each client. Williams said the corporate camp offered exactly what was needed for the LDP II.
“We were looking to develop communication, teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills and their program was a perfect fit for us. The exercises the LDP members went through certainly strengthen collaboration and team vision, and that specifically meets our needs,” she said.
Shuttle missions are the highlights of the Space and Rocket Center’s Space Camp experience, and take place at the Mission Center Complex. LDP II members took on roles in mission control or as a shuttle flight crew member in the space shuttle mock-ups.
Alfonso Santa, an architect with the Operations and Maintenance Medical Engineering Enhancement division under Engineering Directorate, said the shuttle mission portion of the program showed him the importance of effective communication.
“There were a lot of working parts to the mission and a lot of people had specific roles, but everybody had a piece of the mission and was invested in the success of the mission,” Santa said.
He said things were running smoothly until the instructors threw complications into the mission scenario.
“Electronics were failing, communications systems were failing—and everyone had to really work together to complete the mission. But as it turned out, we overcame the obstacles,” Santa said. “That mission really showed me that as a leader you have to know how to apply specific direction and communication during times of adversity.”
Participation in Area 51 tested LDP members’ individual leadership characteristics as well as the group’s overall ability to function effectively as a team.
An electrical engineer with the Engineering Directorate’s Facility Repair and Renewal division, Eldric Jefferson said the experience was a great opportunity to learn about leadership and to foster camaraderie that the program offered at the Space & Rocket Center.
“When a group has a task to complete and only a certain amount of time to complete it with only minimal instruction, everyone has to pull together as a team,” Jefferson said. “People in the group begin coming up with ideas and discussions about the ideas to determine if it will work. But because you are limited in time, everyone in the group soon realizes collectively that they have to come to a consensus and then work together to complete the task, so it really showed me that just to complete the mission, sometimes the best leadership roles are often taken as a follower.”
The Center’s 24 LDP Level II participants – who all volunteered for the program and were endorsed by their supervisors – are Jackson, Nancy Book, Keri Daniels, Mark Fisher, Daniel Gaston, Carrie Gilmore, Rhett Graves, Carolyn Harris, Paula Henderson, Robert Jackson, Melissa Kelly, James Kiesling, Patrick Lane, Robert Mackey, Michele Maxson, Stephanie McCaul, Carla McNeal, Zalerie Moore, Alfonso Santa, Kelly Stell, Wesley Trammell, Phyllis Watson, Amy Webb and Paul Wiggins. \