News: First class symposium strengthens leadership foundation
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Moore
GREAT LAKES, Ill. – The 2014 Great Lakes Area First Class Petty Officer Leadership Symposium concluded April 30, 2014, at Naval Station Great Lakes in Great Lakes, Illinois, after three days filled with leadership training and career guidance.
The mission statement of the symposium was “building a stronger foundation for undivided leadership,” and it featured Master Chief Petty Officers of the Navy (MCPON) Terry D. Scott (2002-2006) and James L. Herdt (1998-2002), and Force Master Chief (AW/SW/NAC) Jon D. Port, Naval Education and Training Command, as keynote speakers.
Led by Electronic Technician 1st Class (SW) Jodi Geibel, from the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) in North Chicago, Illinois, 24 first class petty officers in the Great Lakes area organized the symposium to offer a venue for local commands to come together to receive exceptional leadership training, similar to the first class leadership symposium previously held in Washington D.C.
“Like our quote says, we have a foundation, we have to make it stronger,” said Geibel, from Omaha, Nebraska. “And undivided leadership means working together amongst ranks; first classes with the chiefs, with other commands, with other communities; undivided.”
The symposium was geared toward leadership at the first class petty officer level; however, all personnel above it were invited to attend the first day, and the ranks below it were invited to attend days two and three, as well.
Geibel said it is important to focus on how to become a better leader, and the symposium provided many tools to do so.
Great Lakes-area chief petty officers (CPO) discussed topics such as bridging the gap within generational leadership, mentorship and networking, overcoming adversity, the advancement board process, evaluation writing and advancement exam taking tips. Following the speeches, a panel of several area command master chiefs (CMC) answered Sailors’ questions on the respective topics.
“The Navy is the true beneficiary of all of this,” Herdt said. “And in particular, the E-5 and below are tremendous beneficiaries of this, because these first class petty officers are sitting here listening to the encouragement that they need, and being given ideas to think about, and ways to lead that will benefit everyone concerned.”
Herdt said he was especially impressed with the initiative taken by the first class petty officers to organize the event.
”I’m excited about what I see taking place here,” Herdt said. “The other thing I’m tremendously encouraged by is the fact that the chief petty officers were briefed on this, and they had enough faith and confidence in the first class mess aboard Great Lakes to execute this on their own … this was truly a first class event: run by first classes, and they did it in a first class way.”
Port said he wished he had learned about the tools presented during the symposium earlier in his career.
“I would have dreamed to have that information,” said Port, referring to when he was a petty officer first class. “And I hope that it continues because this kind of information can be so valuable.”
Port said that even though it has been the chief petty officers who have traditionally turned the Navy, he believes these types of events, and other programs such as CPO 365, are helping to provide first class petty officers with a head start.
“Chief petty officers turn an organization for the better,” Port said. “If we can tap into that and continue that with the 365 connection, and the first classes become part of that shaping tool, there’s no end to what we can do for our organization in the future … I believe that great things are for our Navy in the future, and it started right here.”