APG leader discusses BRAC changes, budget challenges
September 1, 2011
- "Learning to lead through this is something you're going to do proactively, or you're going to live through it painfully."
- Martin urges leaders to set a vision and communicate with workers
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Army civilian leaders need to foster proactive change among their organizations, a senior APG official said Aug. 30.
Gary Martin, executive deputy to the commanding general of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, talked with 32 participants of the APG Leadership Cohort program about successfully implementing change.
"Nothing is status quo. We have some real challenges as a nation," Martin said, referencing the ongoing budget negotiations in Congress. "It's going to be a very challenging time."
The Army will need strong leadership at all levels to continue performing its critical missions during budget uncertainty, Martin said.
"We will need leaders that help us through this. Learning to lead through this is something you're going to do proactively, or you're going to live through it painfully," he said.
Martin cited the works of John Kotter, an author and professor at Harvard Business School, about the steps to execute change. Among Kotter's principles are creating a sense of urgency, building a coalition, setting and communicating a vision, and creating short-term gains.
Martin discussed the challenges he faced as technical director of the Communications--Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center during base realignment and closure, commonly known as BRAC. CERDEC moved from Fort Monmouth to APG as part of BRAC 2005.
"BRAC is the most significant change I have been through," Martin said. "If you are from Fort Monmouth and your parents, brothers and sisters work there, that's a hard pill to swallow.
"You and your family have given a tremendous amount of investment there. Trying to build a coalition among the workforce was challenging."
The same insights gained during BRAC, especially creating a sense of urgency and setting a vision, can be applied as the Army and APG confront potential budget cuts, Martin said. Communicating with the workforce is also important because people are afraid of uncertainty.
"We are in a constant state of change. As leaders at Aberdeen, the most significant thing you're going to do is to lead your organization through change that will be uncomfortable and unplanned for," Martin said. "We are not going to be successful unless people see themselves as part of the process."