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Leaders Teaching Leaders: Leadership Development in the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization

Sean Corbett, Program Manager at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), gave an excellent presentation on the FAA’s Leaders Teaching Leaders (LTL) Program at the Training Officer’s Consortium’s Annual Executive Institute in Ocean City, MD this week. Sean shared his experience in standing up and launching an LTL Program at FAA and highlighted the elements that made this program successful in the face of common agency challenges:

  • Providing training to all managers at every level across a large enterprise
  • Sustaining training relevancy and consistency over time
  • Keeping costs low and diminishing over time
  • Making training institutional and implementing it quickly
  • Ensuring senior managers buy-in and keeping them involved

Here are 3 key benefits for agencies to taking this approach:

  1. Provide Leadership and Management Development at All Levels

Senior managers in the FAA LTL Program conducted learning and facilitated discussion sessions twice a year with their management teams. This allowed senior leaders to implement the training in a flexible way, allowing leaders to determine the logistics that worked best for their teams. These sessions fostered continuous engagement between senior leaders and their teams and built bridges at all levels of management, which facilitated ongoing peer-to-peer collaboration.

  1. Create a Culture of Learning

By delivering training at managers’ local facilities, the learning was embedded within the culture where managers worked. These sessions built trust between senior leaders and their workforce and moved leaders from judging to helping their managers do better by opening communication and collaboration. Session costs were covered by the budget of each individual senior leader’s budget, allowing for maximum session flexibility and improving individual buy-in among senior leaders.

  1. Ensure Consistency of Messaging Around Leadership’s Vision

Session content was developed and provided by the central LTL Program team to senior leaders, which provided timely, relevant messaging that was consistent across the enterprise. Having leaders deliver messaging to their own teams built accountability and increased investment among senior leaders in developing their managers. The sessions provided an impetus for physical site visits by senior leaders, providing positive, individual time with managers at each site.

The LTL team used a process of Planning, Prepping, Learning and Evaluating to implement this program. They developed a curriculum to prepare facilitators over the course of 3 days, and they made sure to provide lots of time for discussion of concerns. They provided consistent, frequent program updates from top leaders at FAA to other senior leaders.

Sean identified the following 8 keys to program success:

  1. Leverage executive sponsorship and send continuous executive communications
  2. Identify a format that works for your organization
  3. Provide solid preparation of senior managers
  4. Create senior manager ownership, not just buy-in
  5. Focus on the needs of senior managers throughout the process
  6. Create a leadership framework to thread through training topics
  7. Institutionalize the experience and capitalize on momentum
  8. Have a list of available training topics for future iterations

Sean’s presentation provides a toolkit with a Sample Leadership Capabilities Model, an LTL Program Implementation Timeline, and a Sample Facilitator Preparation Schedule and Session Format. For a copy of the presentation or to learn more about the FAA LTL Program, contact Sean at [email protected].

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