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News | March 19, 2018

Land and Maritime associates fill up on leadership at breakfast

By Dana Thornbury DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Deputy Commander Steven Alsup shared his experience on the subject of leadership with associates during his inaugural “Breakfast with Mr. Alsup.” The event was hosted by the Leadership Development Council March 14 in the Operations Center Buckeye and Cardinal rooms at the Defense Supply Center Columbus.

The LDC fosters leadership and critical decision-making skills by providing the DLA Land and Maritime workforce with continuous learning opportunities through education forums, networking and professional events.

“There’s a lot of discussion on the differences of leadership and management,” Alsup said. “To me it’s real simple. Leadership is the what. It’s the aspirational goal, what are we going to do, what do we want to accomplish and where do we want to go. It’s the ‘put a man on the moon by a decade’ kind of statement or the ‘I have a dream’ kind of statement. It’s the change we want to see.” 

Management is the people that make it happen. It’s the how. It’s what needs to be done to get there. We need both. There’s a relationship between them.” He continued to explain that the traits are not exclusive. A person can be a manager and a leader.

Alsup explained that people are conditioned to seek control growing up; however, to be a good leader, one has to give up control so that their vision can be achieved.

Alsup provided background on his career, starting with the Air Force as an equipment specialist to present day as a member of the Senior Executive Service team at DLA Land and Maritime.

“Leaders have more often than not grown up within our ranks,” he said. “Understanding different attributes and aspects of our business, moving around a little and seeing our business from different angles, gives you the tools you need to succeed.”

During his career, Alsup has moved around. He mentioned that the job functions have changed over the years as well as the tools used to complete the tasks; but it’s always the same business and the experience is built upon with each new job and outlook.

While acknowledging the debate on whether leadership can be learned, Alsup’s philosophy is that if you want to be in leadership it’s something that you should study and reflect upon throughout your career and learn from what you observe.

He provided some key takeaways to the audience:

  • Leaders are all around us
  • There are many wrong ways - there is no single right way to lead
  • Pay attention in meetings - don’t sleep in meetings
  • Work/Life balance
  • Pay attention to what’s going on and how people react
  • Set an aspirational goal
  • Learn from your successes and mistakes … do it better next time
  • Never stop learning - read / listen / watch how others do it - but only you can decide your way