Over the last few years, participants in the GW Center for Excellence in Public Leadership’s (GW-CEPL) e-Co Leadership Coaching Certification program coached employees of the Federal Prison Industries (FPI) on how to grow leadership capacity in the context of developing a coaching culture within the organization.
The Training Officer’s Consortium presented the 2021 Leadership Development Award to GW-CEPL and FPI for their partnership.
FPI believes in developing a flourishing workforce able to restore lives through a thriving corrections program. UNICOR, the trade name for FPI, is a self-sustaining Government corporation that sells market-priced services and quality goods made by inmates. Basically, this means FPI runs a vital correctional program that assists offenders in learning the skills necessary to successfully transition from convicted criminals to law-abiding, contributing members of society.
To build on this vision, FPI partnered with GW-CEPL’s e-Co Leadership Coaching Program. Participants across the enterprise received leadership coaching training, worked one-on-one with GW coaches-in-training for eight hours, and gathered in small peer coaching groups within an eight months-framework, to develop themselves as leaders. Through this program twenty-eight (28) cohort members practiced leadership coaching skills and deepened their relationships as a community. The program envisions the cultivation of principles of coaching that supports deep listening and care helping FPI staff to grow healthier and more resilient.
Further, the pilot program supported the participants with tools for creative decision-making, collaboration and critical thinking. GW’s Impact Evaluation captured participants’ reporting of personal growth such as significant improvement in how they approached conflict, stress, multiple work demands, etc.
Also, a greater sense of inner-awareness and work to gain greater self-control, and positive changes, were noted both at work and at home. Participants also reported professional growth, such as awareness of the importance of better listening and demonstrating more patience with peers and team members. Other skills that participants reflected on included: asking vs. telling, learning from peers, willingness to take risks, thinking “outside the box,” etc.
Testimonials from several of the participants:
“We have started back working in the factory, and with that, I felt the need to pass some wisdom on to my workers. We have all started using relaxation breathing techniques. I have used my digital signboards to display peaceful and relaxing images. Now there are kittens, puppies, and waterfalls playing on the TV throughout the day."
"I instructed them all to take time in their day to stop and breathe. Everyone has embraced it. So many people said they really appreciated the care for their mental status and stress management. Sometimes we just have to stop and realize that everyone else gets as stressed as we do, including the inmates.”
“Care for the other and for the self is at the heart of leadership. I thought I was a good listener, but have learned to listen at a deeper level. This is a new shift I have experienced with the support of my peers and my coach. My team has noticed it and so has my family. This work is life-changing.”
The coaching program developed a sense of care in leadership. GW-CEPL’s e-Co Leadership Coaching Certification is a one-of-a-kind program when it comes to training coaches and serving the community and the greater good.