The U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command, or ISEC, hosted their semi-annual Commander’s Week Jan. 13 – 16 in the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre. The main focus of this event was strategic leadership and professional development for ISEC’s senior leaders.
“Professional development is important for all employees,” explained Carey Luse, ISEC operations chief. “If we’re not preparing our leaders to take on responsibility at the next level, we are doing them a disservice.”
The week began with guest speaker Gary Martin, acting director, Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM. According to Col. Patrick Kerr, ISEC commander, personnel could benefit from Martin’s vast experience to further strategic planning within ISEC.
Martin began his tenure in the Army as a Signal Corps officer in the Satellite Communications Agency and served from May 1984 through May 1988. Then he switched to various engineering positions within the satellite communications program management programs from 1988 – 2000.
His past positions included serving as the technical director, Communications-Electronics, Research Development and Engineering Center from August 2005 until February 2008. His prior assignment was executive director to the commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command where he served as AMC corporate leader for technology generation, development and integration.
“If you stay in a place long enough, you become seasoned enough about the problems the organization faces, the technology and so forth, that at some point, you don’t really have to work too hard,” Martin advised. “There’s a different environment when you pluck yourself out of that and go completely to a different organization … It forces you to get sharp again.”
While the week targeted ISEC senior level personnel, all Fort Huachuca CECOM senior leaders were encouraged to attend.
“The demand on our civilian workforce has continued to increase dramatically over the past 10 years,” said Kerr. “As a result, strategic training sessions such as this allow our senior leaders to gain an appreciation of what is expected of them in the future, and more importantly, discuss how to anticipate and directly address the next strategic challenge.”
In addition to Martin, Regis “Bud” Bates from The University of Arizona South finished the week of guest speakers with a four-hour seminar on the fundamentals of leadership.
“He has a very impressive resume in terms of leadership and experience” Luse mentioned. “He certainly lived up to his reputation.”
Bates’ resume includes 47 years of experience in telecommunications and information services. His titles include book author, consultant, expert witness, speaker, course developer and teacher in these fields.
Bates’ consulting extends from Fortune 100 – 500 companies, working with the design of major voice and data networks. As a teacher, his curriculum focuses on managerial overview to highly technical hands-on classes.
One notable aspect of Bates’ teaching style was his storytelling during the seminar.
“His anecdotes stood out the most,” Luse said. “He is from industry, so he brings a different perspective.”
Bates’ key points highlighted the differences between a leader and a manager. The guest speaker outlined a manager as someone who budgets, organizes and controls in a rigid business environment. He described a leader as someone who works and solves problems in many different situations. Bates also said a leader knows how to be flexible and has the ability to team build and delegate work to the team to help solve a problem.
“People often get promoted on their technical skills when they should be promoted on both technical and people skills,” he added.
Perhaps the greater lesson learned from Bates, according to Luse, is that great leadership prevails, regardless of the environment.
“[Bates’] issues and challenges are really no different than ours,” Luse concluded.