Future supervisors learn skills, concepts during Leadership Academy

By Shaun Eagan DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Forty-nine employees learned about leadership skills, concepts and practices during a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support professional development course April 23-25 in Philadelphia.

The DLA Troop Support Leadership Academy provided the employees, including two from DLA Aviation, with leadership training and mentorship to prepare them for future supervisory positions in their career.

“The purpose of the Leadership Academy is to prepare senior nonsupervisory employees and relatively new supervisors with information, advice and insights into a variety of knowledge, skills and abilities to be good supervisors,” Tom McDonald, Leadership Academy’s program manager from the Command Support Office, said. “We want them to become supervisors who lead, inspire and motivate their employees.”

The course featured 23 guest speakers who provided presentations on practical topics such as ethics, labor relations and equal employment opportunity, and on soft-skills topics such as leadership philosophy, coaching, decision making and dealing with conflicts.

There was also a mentoring panel featuring Troop Support senior leaders who discussed the practical issues that supervisors face, and the skills needed to handle those situations, according to McDonald. 

The keynote speaker, Gary Shute, started his 34-year career as an intern and retired as a former DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles supplier operations director. He discussed his experiences coming up the ranks, leadership and trust, and highlighted his experience as a supervisor.

“The reward of first line supervision is that you get to share [employees’] success,” Shute said. “You get to see people grow under your role as their leader. You get to see them become a leader. You get to see them have birthdays and anniversaries, get married and have children … you share every single one of those moments with those people under your supervision.”

McDonald also said the academy helps employees understand the responsibilities of supervision and decide if they want to pursue it.

“The aim is to provide information to nonsupervisory employees who are contemplating applying for supervisory positions someday so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to be supervisors,” McDonald said. “We want them to be better prepared to be true leaders once they become supervisors.”

Kevin Gleaton, a DLA Troop Support Process Compliance management and program analyst, said he appreciated hearing from the various leaders from around DLA Troop Support, and has yet to find an experience that matches the academy.

“I feel the information senior leaders and the first line supervisors share is invaluable,” Gleaton said. “Unless you know the presenters on a personal level, I’m not sure what other Troop Support venue provides you with the experience of active-listening on this level. Everyone may have traits of leadership, but this course is designed for you to self-examine if leadership is truly for you.”

He also said he enjoyed the academy and was grateful for the experience.

“The [academy] is informative and most of what the speakers share can definitely be applied to our everyday work experiences,” Gleaton said. “I’m confident the information presented can be useful in the event I become a future supervisor for our agency.”

One of the primary lines of effort at DLA Troop Support is to optimize the organization’s people and culture. The Leadership Academy supports this effort and demonstrates DLA Troop Support’s commitment to effectively managing talent and developing leaders, according to McDonald.

“We hope that the Leadership Academy impacts the workforce by providing yet another useful ‘tool’ to employees who may want to be supervisors someday,” McDonald said. “We attempt to provide as much insight as possible into the realities and demands of being a supervisor, the required technical knowledge and the necessary ‘people skills.’”

The Leadership Academy is offered twice a year, with the next one scheduled for Oct. 1-3.

Employees interested in attending should include the academy on their individual development plan as a professional development opportunity. Seats are limited.