Centered leadership

By DLA Energy Public Affairs


Air Force Maj. Gen. Allan Day presented his thoughts on leadership at a Defense Logistics Agency Energy Brown Bag Lunch and Learn at McNamara Headquarters Complex on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Jan. 21.

As the DLA Director of Logistics Operations, J3, Day oversees the daily operation of DLA’s field activities in supporting 2,300 weapon systems and engaging customers around the world. 

Day initiated the leadership conversation by discussing what centered leadership is. He adopted the centered leadership concept after attending the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2011.

“A centered leader is someone who walks in the door with a sense of calm and a clear inner sense of direction,” Day said. “They are whole, not full of themselves, and they understand their purpose and how it aligns in the organization.”

A centered leader starts first by understanding what their purpose is, how they want to live their life and reinforcing that understanding, Day explained. 

Day cited Air Force Lt. Gen. Loren M. Reno as an example of a leader who lives a centered life. A 2013 member of the DLA Hall of Fame, Reno was all about the mission and believed that people were integral to its success.

“He always saw himself as the bottom of the pyramid, supporting people,” Day said.

The opposite of a centered leader is a needy leader, Day said. It is a leader who is unsure of themselves and who have a hole in their life. 

“They need self-esteem and will take energy from you to fill in the holes they have in their psyche,” Day said.

Reno excelled in human capital management, which was a cornerstone of his leadership repertoire, Day said. In addition to his tenure as DLA Vice Director, Reno served as the commander of what is now DLA Energy from May 1996 to February 1998.

“I knew the Brown Bag event would be good because we were going to hear from the J3; I was just surprised at how much it resonated with me,” said DLA Energy Supplier Advocate Susan Lowe. “I especially enjoyed his description of how to be a ‘centered leader’ versus a ‘needy’ or non-centered leader.”

For Patricia Littlejohn, the Bulk Petroleum Supply Chain Services Deputy Director, Day’s remarks were an affirmation of her leadership style.

“This particular lunch and learn session provided me with confirmation about the kind of leader I want to be,” she said. “You don’t worry about having all the answers since you know what your purpose is, you are confident in knowing who you are, and accepting any flaws you have.”

The DLA Energy Brown Bag Lunch and Learn is a year-round program that offers DLA Energy employees the opportunity to learn key soft skills on navigating a career within the Department of Defense. Generals and flag officers, Senior Executive Service members and other key leaders are invited to speak at the monthly forum.

“I attend these lunch and learn sessions because I’m always going to learn something different,” Littlejohn added.

Editor’s note: An avid reader, Day mentioned the following books during his talk:

Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance Hardcover 
by Bob P. Buford (Author), Jim Collins (Foreword) | October 6, 2015

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact 
by Chip Heath and Dan Heath | Oct 3, 2017

Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun on the Job (Pocket Wisdom)
by Dennis W. Bakke | Jul 1, 2006

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)  
by  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi   | Jul 1, 2008

The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers 
by Gillian Tett | Sep 27, 2016

The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and for Our Leaders 
by Ira Chaleff | Nov 2, 2009

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead 
by Sheryl Sandberg | Mar 11, 2013