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NEWS | July 12, 2016

Out of the shadows: My leadership adventure

By Erica Benjamin DCMA Dallas

DALLAS —Everything’s bigger in Texas. From our stadiums to our signature food and music, Texans enjoy living larger than life. It’s no wonder our city is nicknamed Big D.

Much like their namesake, Defense Contract Management Agency Dallas team members think big. So when the opportunity to shadow and learn from senior leaders arose, there was no hesitation even though I was taking a giant leap.

I learned more than I ever expected through this shadowing program. It provided an opportunity to gain insight into senior leader daily tasks and activities. After the review process, I was privileged to shadow DCMA Dallas Deputy Director Rodney Mayo.

I attended several meetings that discussed the importance of “one team, one voice.” I observed direct interaction between various leaders and key personnel within the contract management office, the headquarters element and the agency at large.

Whether via conference call, video teleconference or in person, the levels of communication were task-specific and very effective. Imperative topics such as performance management, metrics, weekly activity reports, performance indicators and logistics were all discussed.

I also helped run a booth with a Human Capitol Directorate recruiter at a local college job fair. As a recent Keystone graduate, I gained better insight on different skillsets and targeted audiences the agency is currently seeking for future positions.

When asked, “What roles do senior leaders serve in the development of Keystones and how can millennials prevail when facing generational gap issues?” Mr. Mayo provided words of wisdom he learned from personal challenges faced and overcome during his more than 30-year acquisition career.

  • One of a senior leader’s key responsibilities is to cultivate and provide opportunities for promising new employees. You should always keep this in the forefront of your mind.
  • Maintaining respect, flexibility, mobility and willingness to take risks will certainly help as you advance.
  • Your conduct should reflect those of your superiors.
  • First line supervision is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
  • And most importantly, always believe in yourself.

Overall, the experience elevated the way I view the roles, responsibilities and daily decisions of senior leaders. There is much more behind the friendly smiles and greetings we see when passing in the hallway. I enjoyed every moment and encourage others to take advantage of the various mentorship and shadowing opportunities offered by the agency.

I believe it helps employees recognize the importance of valuing managements’ experience, understanding the job from different perspectives, and sharing institutional knowledge and observations with newer employees.

It was a smart decision for my career, and I believe it will pay big dividends in the future. Being from Texas, I would expect nothing less.

Editor's Note: This program is designed to facilitate the agency’s Strategic Plan Initiative 3.2.2 — Establishing and Sustaining a Culture of Mentoring. Team members looking to participate in an agency mentoring program can find more information here (login required).

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