Defense Logistics Agency Senior Enlisted Leader Army Command Sgt. Maj. Sultan Muhammad emphasized three things: professionalism, teamwork and family, Nov. 15 at his first major address to DLA’s enlisted members.
Muhammad introduced himself, his values and his thoughts on leadership during the event, with took place at the McNamara Headquarters Complex and was broadcast throughout DLA. He also encouraged the agency’s enlisted members to work together to achieve the director’s goals.
“I want to do this collectively,” he said. “I can’t do it by myself. I need each and every one of you to help us achieve what our director wants from us. You shouldn’t have to guess what your senior leader wants from you. That’s why I wanted to do this in this form, broadcast it out, so you can hear it from me and you know what’s going on.”
Muhammad said he believes being in the military means being a professional by choice, something he wants all DLA enlisted staff to embrace.
“The first thing you need to know about me is I am a professional by choice,” he said. “DLA is a military organization highly populated by civilians, but professional civilians. And professional civilians require professional Soldiers. No one has to tell me to get a haircut, be in the right uniform, be somewhere on time. No one has to tell me that because I want to be a professional by choice. I ask that you embrace that, and if you embrace that, then we can move this organization a whole lot further than where it is. You bring the professionalism; I’ll bring the boss to see you in action.”
Muhammad, on board as the agency’s senior enlisted officer since September, said he knows this assignment is more than a teaching opportunity for him; it’s a learning opportunity as well.
“I am a student first,” he said. “Then I’m a coach, and then I’m the mentor. You say, ‘Why are you the student?’ I’ve never been assigned to DLA before, so it’s your job to educate me. I don’t know everything. I’m not required to know everything. That’s why I got you. That’s why we call it a team. When I come in there, don’t assume I know. But on that same token, logistics is logistics and I can probably coach you through some things.”
Muhammad said getting to know DLA’s enlisted staff allows him to find out about issues he may not be aware of.
“Most of you have pulled duty in this building, and I’ll come out there and talk to you,” he said. “That is on purpose. Because I want to know about you, and I want you to know about me. That is your opportunity to talk to the CSM and tell him what your issues are, if there are some. When I come into your little [work area], I want folks to tell me what’s going on.”
Creating a strong team within the agency is important, Muhammad said.
“I’m a team player,” he said. “I’m on your team, and I need you on mine. I need you on the DLA team. If we can be a team, we can get a lot of stuff accomplished.”
In addition, education, both professionally and as a civilian, can lead to additional opportunities, Muhammad said, adding that one of the service members present at his briefing may be taking his spot in a few years.
“I’m going to resource you, empower you, mentor you,” he said. “I work for you. And I want to track you; the goal is that one of you will be the next sergeant major. I wish I had this assignment when I was at your rank.”
He also emphasized that having strong leadership during difficult times is important to families, something he experienced firsthand in his own life.
“I’m very family oriented,” he said. “I have three children. I’ve lived through your dreams. I’ve been a single parent while on the trail as a drill sergeant. Talk about stress, I had it. And my child was a year and a half old at the time. But I survived. And I survived through one thing and one thing only: good, sound professional leadership. Someone provided that to me, and they helped me get through it. So I’ve been there. So when folks tell me, you don’t understand. Yes, I understand.”
During the remainder of the address, which was followed by a question-and-answer session, Muhammad touched base on topics such as upcoming training days, workforce development and physical fitness, as well as upcoming visits from senior leaders of each branch.
Muhammad also took time to praise the service members for their efforts in both the recent combat and contingency operations.
“I’ve been a logistician all my military career,” he said. “We have lost wars in history because of failed logistics. We are not failing the warfighter and the American people. I’ve watched it with my own eyes, and I haven’t been here two months yet. We haven’t dropped the ball on the mission that we’ve been charged with in the theaters of combat operation and currently in two contingency operations, Haiti and Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that the people in our nation were given the stuff that they need: food, gas, shelter, clothing, energy, heat, removing trash. Great work; it’s phenomenal.”