Troop Support Leadership Academy: build trust and strive for excellence

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Employees from the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support with aspirations for leadership and supervisory roles within the agency had an opportunity to attend a three-day leadership academy Oct. 8-10 in Philadelphia.

Echoing the words of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the keynote speaker for this year’s DLA Troop Support Leadership Academy primed attendees with a question to reflect on.

“You’re here today, and you’re going to try to believe what I say,” Ray Miller, a former Troop Support Subsistence supply chain deputy director, said. “Why? Do you trust me [as a leader]?”

In posing the question, Miller said, he introduced the most important characteristic of being a leader: trust. One of the ways to garner that trust, he said, was to try to be great, regardless of the task.

“Whenever you’re working out there – strive for excellence because everybody wants to see it,” Miller said. “You’re not going to get it every time, but if you do the best you can – you’re going to make a difference.”

When faced with a situation where that excellence is difficult to achieve and teams are task saturated but need to press on, Medical Deputy Direct Elizabeth McMaster said that heartfelt requests, acknowledgements and thanks can go a long way.

“Sometimes it comes down to talking the person [or team] and saying ‘I’m sorry. I know you’re overloaded, and I’m going to ask you to do one more thing. Because I know you’re going to do it right and I trust you to do it,’” McMaster said. “Sometimes just acknowledging it and thanking people helps.”

The program included presentations from several other offices covering leadership and supervision topics such as:

  • Transitioning from peer to supervisor
  • Resiliency fundamentals
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Process compliance and continuous process improvement
  • Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity
  • Coaching
  • Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
  • Ethics
  • Human resources processes and programs
  • Dealing with conflicts

Eric Newsome, a tailored vendor logistics specialist with Construction and Equipment who attended the course, said he found the collective information helpful in his path toward a supervisory role.

“This course is a valuable program,” Newsome said. “It taught me a lot about the leadership process.”

The intent of the program, according to Patricia Lynch, Troop Support Organizational Development branch chief, is exactly that: to prepare aspiring employees, like Newsome, for leadership positions.

The program concluded with a graduation ceremony led by Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence, who encouraged the graduates to continue to grow throughout their careers.

“[Leadership academy] forges an opportunity for aspiring leaders to interact with one another; to forge relationships and grow,” Lawrence said. “But I will tell you this: it doesn’t stop here.”

Leadership Academy is held twice each year. Participants are selected by senior leader nomination.