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News | Oct. 1, 2020

Agency readies Emerging Leaders Program

By Valisa Harris DCMA Manassas

Defense Contract Management Agency’s Total Force Directorate, led by its executive director Michael Beaupre, understands leadership is a critical focus area.

Because of that emphasis, the Leadership Development Integrated Project Team is working on developing a robust Leadership Development Program. The first phase, the curated Skillsoft learning programs, began in July. These learning programs are organized by roles to include the individual contributor, team lead, new supervisor and experienced supervisor. Phase two is ongoing, which is a revision of the DLEAD 201 course for new supervisors. Numerous programs are projected to launch during phase three, specifically during the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.

One of the phase three initiatives is a centrally-managed, agency-wide, Emerging Leaders Program. This program will identify high-potential employees, and then start them on a path to enhance their skills and abilities in the Department of Defense leadership competencies.

ELP will focus on continuous learning, opportunities to grow and gain real life experiences, and provide forums for building strong, and lasting professional relationships. The ELP framework will provide a way for employees to develop critical leadership competencies essential to successful mission execution and customer satisfaction. All this will be accomplished consistently across the agency and available to all employees.

ELP will replace the contract management offices’ and regions’ Tier II programs. There will be a grandfather clause of 18 months for the existing Tier II program participants during the pilot as the agency transitions to the ELP. This will allow legacy Tier II program participants to complete their programs by April 2022.

“There are many advantages to centralizing the agency’s leadership development program,” said Beaupre. “A centrally managed program leads to more opportunities for everyone, including senior leadership accessibility, networking opportunities within the agency and DoD, and a formal mentorship program. A standardized program will create a consistent reputation throughout the agency.

“A centralized approach is also the most cost-effective option since it provides strategic oversight and visibility to gauge a return on investment, project accomplishments, and other metrics data,” he added. “This will provide key drivers to further enhancements. Additionally, the ELP aligns with DCMA’s Strategic Plan Strategic Goal 5, which is to enhance and strengthen the skills, readiness, and effectiveness of the total workforce.”

The ELP project team consists of employees from across the agency: Valisa Harris, team lead, supervisory contract specialist and ELDP program manager, DCMA Manassas, Va.; Nicole Bragg, director of contracts, DCMA Atlanta.; Greg Stein, cost price analyst, DCMA headquarters Contracts Directorate, Fort Lee, Va.; Darkeesha Sims, executive assistant, DCMA headquarters Financial Business Operations, Fort Lee, Va.; and Stan Lau, contract price/cost analyst, DCMA Baltimore.

The team used best practices from existing Tier II programs from across the agency to develop ELP requirements. The ELP will provide leadership development opportunities for two cohorts, one in the GS 6-9 category, and one in the GS 11-13 category, over a period of 18 months.

“The team met with regional representatives across the agency to ensure the program captured key elements and components that are important to the success of the program,” said Sims.

The ELP team will initiate an 18-month pilot starting this November. Employees from across the agency will be able to offer feedback before the program requirements are finalized. In September, a tasker will be sent out to solicit participants and annual opportunities.

The pilot program components include:

◾Courses aligned with leadership competencies
◾Formal mentoring
◾Networking opportunities
◾Meetings (monthly cohort peer meetings and quarterly cohort senior leader team coach meetings)
◾Book reviews/presentations/leadership seminars/speakers
◾Short-term projects
◾Shadowing/high level meetings (virtual)
◾Capstone project

Overall, ELP is a key component of the DCMA Leadership Development Program. The program features training that will be useful for all employees, including Skillsoft-based leadership competency courses, developmental assignments, a mentorship program, coaching for new supervisors, and new leadership classes for every level and role within the agency.

“We want employees to come join us as we take our leadership program to new heights one step at a time,” said Kathy Butera, Total Force’s deputy executive director.