Director, senior leaders offer personal guidance to leaders of tomorrow

By Dianne Ryder

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Senior leaders from the Defense Logistics Agency shared their guidance and experiences with employees at the GS-14 level Aug. 29-31, in the “Building your Roadmap to Success” forum at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.

DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams gave opening remarks, thanking the Human Resources team that organized the event. He then addressed the audience, all participants in DLA’s Enterprise Leader Development Program, who make up about 9 percent of the GS-14s in the agency. 

The director compared DLA’s emerging leaders to a baseball team. “Anything can happen to any ‘star players’ at any time.”

And so DLA needs to cultivate its less experienced “players” to become those stars of the future, Williams said.

“That’s what we’re doing with this program,” he explained. “We’re ‘building the bench’ of the Defense Logistics Agency for the present as well as the future. … “We want a bench loaded with leaders like yourself who are ready and willing to step up and perform.”

“I hope you take great advantage of this opportunity,” he added. “As long as you’re here and the doors are open, hopefully you will come away from this training with some extremely useful tools in your kit bag.”

The director noted that the words making up the theme of the event — aspire, engage, learn — are not mere buzzwords but ideas both he and DLA Human Resources Director Brad Bunn believe have specific importance for the agency’s future leaders.

"You’ll have the best chance of success as a senior leader if you possess a balanced blend of all three of these characteristics,” he said. “It’s the intersection of aspiration, engagement and ability that is the sweet spot for success.”

“A good leader inspires and motivates others to embrace the goals of the organization and to do the work, and obviously, achieve results.” 

He noted that great leaders motivate by example. “A good leader possesses attributes that others find easy to appreciate — like character, like presence and certainly, a high degree of intellect.” But equally important are ethics, integrity, empathy and personal discipline, Williams said.

But these are not static qualities, he emphasized. “A great leader has to do something with those qualities — not just possess them,” he said. “So, let’s introduce action words — a great leader must lead by example.”

Great leaders build trust and extend their influence often beyond their immediate chain of command, he said. They create a positive environment and are concerned about developing others while achieving results.

And a big part of leading others is in how you treat them, he said. “I’ve learned that a little common sense, hard work and treating people the right way can take you a long way. ... If you take care of people, the mission will happen. I’ve been following that principle for quite some time, and I believe it with all my heart.”

Nurturing future leaders is “the hallmark of great organizations,” Williams said. “So for the health of the organization, and for the good of the warfighters and all our important customers, we must remain laser focused on maximizing the potential of our greatest asset — our people.”

We are so fortunate,” Williams added. “We get to come to work believing in what we do; we get to be a part of something far greater than ourselves.” 

He concluded: “The fact that you show up for work every day means that you know you’re doing something for someone else. Thank you for what you do for this agency and for our warfighters and for our other federal agencies.”

Following the director’s remarks, the participants joined in workshop sessions and panel discussions with SES members over the three-day event.