Richmond, Va. –
While some leaders may take the “Simon Says” approach with their teams, for one Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Leadership Award recipient leadership is all about collaboration.
Jeff Shields’s leadership of the Aviation Engines and Airframes Division, Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, is considered “transformative” by the individual who nominated him.
Shields’s nominator and deputy division chief, Greg Sansone says Shields’s style is at the very core of his leadership philosophy as he [Shields] leads the division to provide world-class support to the warfighter with engine and airframe parts for various platforms.
“I like a participatory style of leadership where the interested parties to a decision or process discuss it together,” Shields said. “Generally, that leads to a ‘we’ decision that everyone can own and live up to, rather than a ‘me’ decision that is directed.”
This collaborative approach has lent itself to out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to fulfilling client orders. Shields said one example of this creative problem solving was the task of acquiring parts for the Marine Corps AV-8B single seat vertical/short takeoff and land, or V/STOL for short, Harrier II aircraft.
Shields said his contracting officers worked through some “really tough” face-to-face negotiations to come up with a solution that allowed them to procure the needed parts.
“That negotiation was the basis for subsequent contracts for those items on future procurements,” he said.
Another example of Shields leading his team to find solutions to a challenging problem was a fulfillment request for windows to outfit C-5 Galaxy aircraft at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. The answer, once again, was collaboration.
“The basic problem there was, ‘oops, we are out of production.’ But the buyer, contracting officer, product specialist, and several layers of management all worked with the suppliers to convince them to bid on the needed items that were out of production,” Shields said.
Shields’s team then structured the contracts to alleviate perceived risks, which enabled them to present terms that all parties could accept. “It is also a great feeling knowing that what we do, getting parts to warfighters, helps keep our [service members] and our country safe,” he said.
Working as a division chief in supplier operations and its predecessor for nearly 20 years has allowed Shields to see the rewards of his leadership style.
“The best part is working with new folks in the organization, helping them get started in their careers, and then watching them advance through the ranks,” Shields said. “I try to treat folks right when they work with me. Then when they ‘pay it forward’ in their new roles, I hope that I contributed in a small way to their success.”