Cultural Transformation through Leadership Training


SourDough News | May 31, 2013


Group photo of Middle Leaders by Charles Lindemuth.

Group photo of New Leaders by Charles Lindemuth.
Forest Service and BLM employees pose for group photos at their graduations from the Middle Leaders and New Leaders training programs in Anchorage, Alaska, April 2013. Photos by Charles Lindemuth.

Keep the Training Local, Expand the Reach

In 2012, the Alaska Region embarked on the first region-specific Forest Service leadership training program in the nation. The New Leader Program and the Middle Leader Program each admitted 25 participants, selected through a competitive process that focused on the candidates’ potential as strong future leaders in the agency. Partners in this effort included the Bureau of Land Management, University of Alaska–Anchorage, and the Forest Service’s Center of Learning in Albuquerque.


All Alaska Region employees in grade levels GS-7 to GS-12 were encouraged to apply for one of the programs, resulting in 78 applications. Five slots total for both programs were reserved for BLM applicants. The regional selection committee made a concerted effort to include women and men who ranged from recent graduates to seasoned employees with many years in the workplace. The participants represented a variety of program areas, including engineering, wildlife and fisheries, law enforcement, lands, forestry, interpretation, administration, botany, planning, fleet, dispatch, operations, geology, and archaeology.


The training programs included both video teleconferencing sessions and face-to-face sessions held on the University of Alaska–Anchorage campus. This region-specific training gave Alaska Region employees the necessary tools and knowledge to become the next generation of agency leaders at a time of increased attrition among leadership through retirement. In addition, by providing this career development opportunity, the Alaska Region also strengthened its ability to retain employees, who now have significantly improved prospects for advancement. This, in turn, ensures the long-term success of the agency in meeting its staffing, programmatic, and business needs.


In past years, the Alaska Region was very limited in the number of students they could send to the Lower 48 for leadership training. The benefits of keeping the training in Alaska are twofold: many times more employees have been afforded access to leadership training, and at a 40 to 60 percent lower cost to the agency.


[Watch New and Middle Leader program participants as they talk about their experiences with the leadership program]


The New Leader and Middle Leader programs have instilled in participants the qualities that are critical in good leaders: self-awareness, an understanding of the differences in personality types and thinking strategies, the skills to support the growth of fellow employees, and the competency to lead others in carrying out the mission of the agency. The effectiveness of Forest Service leadership is strengthened overall. 



By Wendy Zirngibl, Regional Office Public Affairs