Pilot leadership course provides tools for effective supervision

By Janeen Hayes DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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More than 30 supervisors learned leadership lessons and tools for effective supervision during Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s first Leadership Academy Feb. 21-23 in Philadelphia.

“The idea [for the Leadership Academy] began in one of my brown bag lunches with first-level supervisors,” said Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton, DLA Troop Support commander.

It was then, Hamilton said, that he learned supervisors do not receive the necessary training prior to becoming responsible for other employees.

During the three-day course, attendees gained insight on specific supervisory responsibilities, such as “Steps for a New Hiring Action,” “Transitioning from Peer to Leader” and “Managing Teleworkers.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Dan Mongeon, a former commander of the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, spoke to the group about “Leadership, Building Trust and Managing Relationships.”

As the commander during a pivotal time in Troop Support’s history, when the workforce of the Defense Personnel Support Center merged with the Defense Industrial Support Center, forming DSCP, Mongeon shared his experiences on how those key factors assisted him in ensuring the transition was as seamless and painless as possible for the workforce.

Developing an effective leadership style, earning the trust of your employees and building relationships with them are the cornerstones of your success as a supervisor, said Mongeon.

“There were some trying times when things like parking and commuting caused low morale,” he said referring to the merger. “Leaders must possess the capacity to communicate hope and optimism.”

Most of the academy participants have only been in their position for a year or less.

But the course was a refresher for Gwen Williams, supervisor for Construction and Equipment’s Collective Customers and Foreign Military Sales Support branch. She’s been with DLA for almost 33 years, nine of which she has been a supervisor.

She volunteered to take the course and said it was “very beneficial.”

“I learned a few new skills and was able to sharpen some others of which will be beneficial in how I supervise my team,” she said. “Supervisors should be able to grow employees, communicate effectively, as well as be the force that motivates employees to achieve the overall strategic goals of DLA and DLA Troop Support.”

As a new supervisor, Thomas Orlando, a branch chief in the Industrial Hardware Strategic Material Sourcing Group, said the benefits of the academy were twofold.

“A benefit to me is that I develop a better understanding of leadership in the workplace and education on policies and procedures,” he said. “A benefit to my employees is that I can utilize the information received to provide training and [improve communication flow] for my employees. This increases morale and productivity.”

As the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy, Hamilton encouraged the attendees to provide feedback on how the course can be beneficial to those seeking supervisory positions and challenged them to take what they learned back to their employees to build them up.

“This course is really designed for those who are preparing for leadership,” he said. “I am looking to you. I need your feedback on how we can make this better for them. I need you coaching, teaching and mentoring your employees into our future leaders.”