USS Blue Ridge NAVLEAD Team Forges Future Leaders 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cale Hatch, USs Blue Ridge Public Affairs 
USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea - Thirteen Sailors aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) graduated from the ship's Petty Officer Second Class Selectee Leadership course, April 19.

The course is one of three courses making up the ship's Navy Leader Development (NAVLEAD) program. Two other courses are the Petty Officer Selectee and the Petty Officer First Class Leadership courses.

NAVLEAD courses, which are held onboard Blue Ridge several times each quarter and when advancement results are released, include an average of 20 students and seven to 10 volunteer facilitators.

The three-day program is designed to prepare and develop Sailors for future leadership roles.

According to Chief Fire Controlman (SW/AW) Tim Esler, Blue Ridge's NAVLEAD program coordinator, the success of the course onboard Blue Ridge can be attributed to the volunteer facilitators and the hands-on, scenario-based learning incorporated into the program.

"In my opinion, the best leadership training doesn't take place in the classroom-it happens on the deckplates," Esler said. "That's why a great deal of the instruction includes real-life situations and issues built into scenarios that require the students to use critical thinking skills to solve them."

"The petty officers who volunteer to facilitate the courses really are the backbone of the program," Esler added. "They care about the subjects and the students enough that they choose to take the time out of their own busy schedules to ensure our Sailors get the right tools to help them grow into future leaders."

Some of the topics covered in NAVLEAD include professionalism, teamwork, command climate, communication, diversity and of course leadership.

Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) George Glover, assistant coordinator and facilitator, said the scenario-based training helps students hone in on their own leadership style.

"Having students act out real situations to see how they'll handle them brings out their leadership talents and gives them an opportunity to explore how they want to approach leadership on a more personal level," Glover said.

For one graduate of this most recent class, the curriculum taught him how to use his new leadership skills to tackle leadership issues and helped him develop new skills and ideas for future leadership roles.

"The class gave everyone different perspectives on how to deal with situations," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kevin Carey a student. "It taught me different ways to approach and solve problems and gave me new insights on how to handle being in a leadership position," he added.

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