Friday, April 22, 2011


This past week I spent three days in a required work intern conference. The conference theme was "Leadership." I will be graduating on May 14, with my Masters in Leadership. So, I spent most of the three days internally rolling my eyes while thinking, "How many times do I have to hear this 'stuff' repeated?" I am old enough to realize you cannot stay in that mindset or you will miss out on the occasional "nugget" that will be tossed for the open mind.

The most enjoyable segments of the conference were the key note speakers. Every morning, an SES greeted the crowd. For those of you who are not familiar with civil service, an SES is the civilian equivalent of a general or admiral. Yesterday, Mr. Jonathan Witter, SES, DFAS-Columbus Site Director, spoke. He discussed the fact that early in a career, one has great control over their environment. You are basically only responsible for yourself. As your career grows, you become responsible for things outside of your direct control. For instance, you may become a supervisor. You have limited control over your staff's performance. However, you have influence.

The example he used was reporting. Our site is responsible for producing high-level reports that float all the way up to the Pentagon. Many other sites and military service branches provide the data that is required for our site to produce the reports. Our site has very little control over other sites and even less over the military service branches. However, we have total control and responsibility for producing accurate and timely reports. Some branches were habitually late sending in their data which was creating lateness in reporting. This was totally outside of our site's control. However, as a leader, Mr. Witter had to influence the branches to get their data in both accurately and on time. So, he commissioned the development of a balanced score card. It showed the accuracy and timeliness of data submission. Amazingly, things became more accurate and timely once the indicator report was available and they saw their name in "red." A good example of having little control over others however, utilizing great leadership influence to get the job done.

As a result of that 30-45 minute session, I am determined to no longer let things outside of my "control" hinder me. I must be creative and "influence" the circumstances to accomplish my mission: personally or professionally. How about you?

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