Huntsville Center project manager takes strides to become a better leader

Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Aug. 26, 2016
Shannon Ward poses for a photo Aug. 25. Huntsville leadership selected Shannon Ward to be this year’s Emerging Leader.

Shannon Ward poses for a photo Aug. 25. Huntsville leadership selected Shannon Ward to be this year’s Emerging Leader.

It takes hard work and dedication to become a leader in the workplace as one Huntsville Center project manager recently learned.

Huntsville leadership selected Shannon Ward to be this year’s Emerging Leader.

During the weeklong Executive Governance Meeting at USACE headquarters earlier this month, Ward participated in rigorous classes, group activities, meetings and completed a project, all geared toward leadership development.

Throughout the week, Ward shadowed director of Civil Works Mr. James Dalton as he mapped out a general plan for the Corps’ future until 2020.

The program taught Ward what her strengths and weaknesses are as a leader, she said.

“My strengths (as a leader) are, I’m good at listening, (and) I’m good at giving advice,” Ward said. “My weakness was coaching because I’d never done it.”

Coaching is a leadership method that prompts a leader to listen and ask questions until the team member arrives at his or her own answer, Ward said.  

Although Ward learned how to better her leadership skills, she has always been a strong leader.

Ward’s supervisor, Geosciences Branch Chief Blaine Guidry, acknowledged this characteristic when he asked her if she would be interested in attending the program.

“In everything she does she shows these (leadership) abilities — from volunteering to help out with the Huntsville Activities Association, to developing her technical and leadership skills on a daily basis,” Guidry said.

“She is a great person, and I expect great things from her in the future, and (I) felt like the (Emerging Leadership Program) was a good path for her, and (the Huntsville Center), to help hone her leadership qualities.” 

Ward plans to implement her training into her job as a project manager for explosives ordnance removal. 

She also hopes to continue in Huntsville Center’s leadership program.

“I would like to be a part of (the leadership program) and make it more accessible to those here at the center,” she said.

If more employees went through leadership training, it might benefit the Huntsville Center.

“It would drive those individuals that want to be in a hirer position,” Ward said. “It would also help supervisors in how they mentor, speak and motivate their employees.”

The program challenged participants to plan out their future so they can obtain higher positions in their career field, Ward said.

But while the program encouraged its students to create a clear vision of a career path, the program also prompted them to experience multiple career areas in their workplace, she said.  

“Another key thing that they talked about was, don’t just stay so focused in your area, branch out,” Ward said.

Ward left headquarters full of new ideas to bring back to the Huntsville Center about branching out to become better a leader.

“It’s interesting, and hopefully, we can get more people out there and doing (the Emerging Leader Program),” Ward said. “It’s a great thing.”