DLA Aviation commander shares followership thoughts, thanks employees at final Town Hall

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Allan Day began his final workforce Town Hall May 17 by saying, “It is a bittersweet moment, and it [seems like it] was just two days ago that I took command.” 

Employees packed the Frank B. Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, to hear Day’s memories of his command, including his perspectives on followership.  

Day said DLA Aviation is a great organization and once again highlighted that it was the best large organization in DLA according to the 2016 Denison Climate/Culture results.

Day presented several awards and recognitions to DLA Aviation Support Team deployees Valerie Ashe, Margarita Beckles, and Audrey Melvin, and to employees Loelesia Arcangel, James Dunlap, and Gail Jackson, for outstanding achievement.

“We are the best because of you, but I urge you not to rest on your accomplishments,” Day told the workforce.  “Make [the workplace] a positive, reinforcing environment for all.”

Before leaving command, Day, who is a life-long learner, said he has been sharing his perspectives on followership with DLA Aviation’s forward locations.  He said he learned about followership from courses he has been taking as part of his organizational leadership doctoral program.

“The feedback has been positive and universal in the opinion that we don’t talk about the importance of followership enough,” he said.   

Day shared a video on perspective and what shapes it, highlighting common bias like the Bandwagon Effect, Blind-Spot Bias, Selective Perception and Anchoring Bias.

He transitioned to followership theory by asking individuals if they are following a leader, maybe off a cliff, or following the organization’s common purpose. 

“I urge leaders and followers to serve the organization’s common purpose,” he said as he reviewed leadership styles, the five styles of followership and several videos highlighting the types of each. 

The five styles of followership are alienated followers/criticizers, exemplary followers/self-starters, sheep slackers/passive followers and “yes” people/conformist followers.

There are situational reasons that we may find ourselves in each followership role, Day said. As leaders, followers, and co-workers, we have the opportunity to drive each other to certain followership styles.

Day said leaders are always talking strategy, and most are trying to figure out the right strategy.

“The best leaders want to create an empowered culture, he said.  “Be clear on the what and the why [to be done], but trust those you empower with the how.”

Day concluded the followership discussion by showing a video of a “lone nut” person dancing and after “one brave follower” joined him, others followed and started a dance movement.

“The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader,” Day said. “It takes courage to be the first follower.”

Follower is not a negative term Day said, it is a legitimate and necessary role, its supporting leaders and helping them lead well.

“I have become a better leader because of my time with you,” he said. “I’ve learned resiliency through your examples, I’ve grown to trust people to make the best decisions for the organization.”

Day reminded the workforce “our culture is about you, your personal attitude.  Continue the journey, ask how awesome can we be?”

Day highlighted several significant accomplishments during his command, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Programs Star awarded in 2016, the 2016 Commander-in-Chief Installation Excellence Award, the 2015 DoD Value Engineering Award, and the 2015 and 2016 Chesterfield Platinum Awards for environmental compliance.

He also highlighted the amount of workload completed, the “fruits of our labor,” during the past two years:  7.5 million plus requisitions, 680,000 purchase orders, $9.2 billion in sales, 3,000 plus aircraft produced and 1 million plus commodities produced.

“Holy cow, that is a lot, and it’s a big deal,” he said.  “I’m so proud of you guys. When we put our minds to it, we do amazing things.”

Day recognized and thanked the entire DLA Aviation workforce, the activities that support DLA Aviation, DLA Installation Support at Richmond, and his administrative and leadership teams. 

In thanking his senior leadership team, Day highlighted Charlie Lilli, DLA Aviation deputy commander, who through his leadership allowed Day to be the “face of DLA Aviation.”

Lilli prepared a closing photo video for Day which highlighted just how much Day was the” face of DLA Aviation” during his command. 

Lilli shared that in 846 days (the length of Day’s command), the commander flew 98,000 miles, drove 10,500 miles, ran 2,400 miles and visited five countries, 21 states, and 1 aircraft carrier.

At the conclusion of the Town Hall, employees enjoyed an ice cream treat.