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Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)


CLIMB (Collaborate. Lead. Influence. Motivate. Build.)

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On this page:
Program Benefits  |  Purpose  |  Program Structure  |  Contact

Register for FY22 CLIMB on FAI’s Cornerstone On Demand

Introducing the CLIMB Program

CLIMB is a two-week introductory leadership program. The CLIMB program is designed for participants to build a foundational leadership skillset, incorporate critical thinking through systems thinking, create a culture of learning and accountability, and develop confidence to drive outcomes using interpersonal skills.

A pilot offering of 25 participants was completed in April 2021 with great success. A beta offering is scheduled for June 2021 with open registration beginning for the October 2021 program. CLIMB will be offered approximately once per quarter. Please check Cornerstone on Demand (available June 7) to register for available offerings.

Here’s what CLIMB pilot participants are saying:

“Great class. I think the topic is worth sharing to all employees not just leaders and those seeking leadership positions. I think CLIMB (information & the way it was presented) can be a stepping stone to improved relationships between workers and (low-mid level) leaders. The more the employee understands the big picture and mission of leadership, I think it will empower all employees to set and strive to do and be better.”

“This is a class for all supervisors and leaders. The book was very easy to read, and the instructor is a great example of a true leader. I am glad I attended and can share all my lessons and knowledge I gained. Thank you!”

“I am honored to be the first in being part of the piloting of this course. The feedback received from the class overall will help bridge gaps on the participants and provide a means to reflect on their leadership style, to enable them to learn, grow, lead, influence others, motivate others and build an even better leadership Acquisition Workforce.”

“You did an excellent job with this course and I am walking away energized to be a better leader leading from where I am at.”

Who will benefit the most from CLIMB?

People who want to make a difference and start leading from where they are!

CLIMB is geared to GS-11 — GS-13 members of the Acquisition Workforce

CLIMB participants are highly interested in taking what they learn about foundational leadership concepts and applying their own strengths, traits, and experience in order to determine how they can lead from where they are to best serve the agency mission, their customer, and their career goals. The program involves active participation and collaboration; therefore, participants must be available fulltime throughout the two-week duration.

The Contracting Professional School at the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy has also developed the award-winning SALT leadership program to meet the needs of Supervisory 1102s and Program/Project Managers.

CLIMB is free for VA Acquisition employees.

Why are we CLIMB-ing?

In 2019, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs signed a memo asking all VA team members to be active participants in their professional development. This sparked an initiative to further invest in talent at VA with strategic and impactful professional development programs. Members of the Talent Development Council (TDC), along with learning leaders across VA, inspired by OPM Leadership Competencies, ICARE Values and Servant Leadership Principles, created the Leadership Development Framework (LDF) with the goal of fostering a continuous learning culture.

The LDF identifies five key leadership levels: Emerging Leader (leading self), Team Leader (leading projects), First Line Supervisors (leading teams), Manager (leading programs) and Senior Leader (leading organizations).

VAAA already offers leadership training via the SALT program at the First Line Supervisor and Manager levels of the LDF. Senior leaders and the career field have been requesting an introductory leadership training for years in order to foster a culture of accountability and continual learning. The CLIMB program seeks to define and grow the OPM Leadership competencies identified at the LDF’s Emerging Leader and Team Leader level:

  • Accountability
  • Continual Learning
  • Decisiveness
  • Influencing/Negotiating
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Team Building
How is CLIMB structured?

David Ely leading a virtual session - Virtual sessions are presented in an engaging format with videos, music, lively discussions, polling, and several opportunities for group collaborationThe program combines 10 days of instructor-led virtual sessions emphasizing class discussion and collaboration with independent assignments using Blackboard Learn and an online textbook.

Participants take quizzes every day and submit assignments for credit. The program culminates in brief individual presentations centered on how the foundational leadership competencies can be applied for each individual to lead from where they are.

Example of daily schedule:

  • Hour 1: Live classroom session
  • Hour 2: 10-minute break and live classroom session
  • Hour 3: Independent assignment (quiz, reading, questionnaire, etc.)
  • Hour 4: Lunch
  • Hour 5: Live classroom session
  • Hour 6: 10-minute break followed by live classroom session
  • Hours 7 and 8: Independent assignments (quiz, reading, questionnaire, etc.)
Have a question about CLIMB that we haven’t answered?

Contact Houston Keil for more information.