The new leader of Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support introduced himself to employees and discussed his leadership perspective during his first town hall July 18.
“I just want to say the glass is half full. And when I see that glass half full, I’m wondering what I’ve got to do to get it all the way full,” Army Col. Mark Simerly said. “And that’s where I need your help, getting it all the way full.”
Simerly said he prefers to practice a positive approach to leadership because negative, power-based approaches aren’t effective over the long term.
“And if there’s one thing I learned in my short time here, which is just over a week, is that we don’t have too many short-term employees at Troop Support,” Simerly said. “We’ve got some folks that are here for the long haul.”
He then described several key characteristics of positive leadership.
“It really comes down to three things: trust, discipline and commitment,” he said.
“Trust ... it’s the life blood of our profession,” Simerly said. “If we don’t have trust, we’re really not going anywhere, and that’s the bottom line.”
Next, he explained how discipline affects the mission.
“You should expect me, and I should expect you, to accomplish the mission with honor,” he said. “If we don’t do it in a way that is consistent with our values, in an honorable way, then we’ve done a lot more damage than what we’ve accomplished on an individual task.”
Simerly said he expects Troop Support employees to also practice discipline in their professional interactions.
“I expect you to treat each other with dignity and respect always,” he said.
When it comes to violations of trust and integrity, Simerly told his workforce there is no leeway.
“Ethical lapses just cannot be tolerated,” he said. “If you mistreat people, there will be consequences for that.”
In terms of commitment, Simerly wants the workforce to commit to team success.
“If we’re successful as a team, then the warfighter is going to be successful when it comes to logistics,” he said.
He also expects Troop Support employees to commit to professional development as they strive to master their craft. In turn, he said they can expect Troop Support leaders to commit to providing the resources and the environment to meet their development needs.
Trust, discipline and commitment are essential to an effective workforce, especially considering the current state of affairs in the European and Pacific theaters, Simerly said.
“We easily could be on the precipice of the next big conflict,” he said. “In some places, we are just a hairs-width from the next conflict.”
He said these conflicts have the potential to be on a much larger scale and more lethal than those of the past several decades, and Troop Support must set the conditions now that will enable effective warfighter support.
After presenting his perspectives on leadership, Simerly took questions from those in attendance.
Nick Sistrun, a business analyst in the Command Support Office, asked how the new commander planned to fill the glass all the way up. Simerly said that he needs to assess the workforce and the organization before he could offer specifics, but when changes come, they will be related to enhancing support to the warfighter.
After the town hall, Sistrun said he was more than satisfied with Simerly’s reply.
“That’s the mark of a true leader, to assess the workforce before he starts making changes,” Sistrun said. “To me, he seems like the right guy for the job.”