Pace shares insights and lessons learned with Team APG managers
January 3, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The United States' 16th Chairmanof the Joint Chiefs of Staff shared his thoughts on leadership with APG supervisors and managers during a Dec. 13 session at the Myer Auditorium.
More than 200 employees listened raptly as Gen. Peter Pace, the first Marine appointed to the nation's
highest-ranking military office, discussed how decisions are made at the highest echelons of government, a day in the life of a chairman, mistakes made and lessons learned, and what keeps him awake at night.
Pace said he was unsure of the fate of organizations when it came to a potential sequestration, but "I honestly believe that C4ISR is going to be spared from major cuts because it is a force multiplier.
"That doesn't mean there won't be some downsizing," said Pace. "I don't know that for a fact, but I've got to believe that if cuts are coming, cuts to C4ISR will be much less than elsewhere."
On leadership, he urged management to talk to subordinates and ask them if they believe what they do in the organization is valuable.
"And as they look at you--the leadership--and the leadership above you, would they like to be like you?" said Pace. "Do they want to have your life, do they want to have your boss's life, because the truth of the matter is, unless you're a CEO or commanding general, you are not going to change the culture of that organization. [The organization] is going to change you, as you are immersed in its day-to-day missions.
"Your subordinates need to understand that and embrace that," he said
"And if they don't understand that, you need to help them understand, because if they don't want to be like you or your bosses, they are in the wrong spot, because over time they will become you."
He highlighted the importance of honest mistakes, speaking your mind, obeying orders and moral boundaries.
"When you talk to your subordinates, you should encourage them to set their moral compass now, and understand it... There are things out there that are going to constantly [tempt] you, and if you don't go to work knowing who you want to be the next day, it gets a little dicey."
Pace said employees who have the courage to offer honest opposing viewpoints, "without being aggressive or antagonistic are worth their weight in gold.
"If I want to know as a general officer how brilliant I am, I can tell myself that in the morning, in the mirror. What I need are the folks who work with me, and for me, to tell me my baby is ugly, when my baby is ugly" said Pace. "We need the lieutenants and captains and majors who really know what's going on, to tell the generals, who are trying to do the right thing, what's really happening.
We need you, at CECOM, to tell the boss what it is that you see different from him or her."
He called taking care of the "folks in your charge," a "sacred obligation." Pace suggested leaders spend a few minutes a day developing relationships, talking to workers about something other than work.
"The truth is, if an employee realizes the boss is a caring leader, when they run up against day-to-day friction while carrying out the mission, they will take personal risks to get the mission done because they know what their boss wants," he said.
"And they know they aren't going to get killed for making a mistake. They'll really want to be a part of that organization."
Pace said the real reason you take care of your folks is because it's the right thing to do, but the result is your organization will end up performing far beyond what you could possibly expect.
"You don't have to be the smartest guy on the block. But if you try to be a caring leader, your folks will do some
In closing, Pace addressed one of his greatest concerns--cyber warfare.
"You can take a lap around the planet, to all the hotspots in the world, and none of that--while I was
on active duty, or now--keeps me up at night. Because I know, if the United States chooses to, it has the ability
to do something about it. Except in one area, and that is the area of cyber attacks and cyber defense."
Having addressed cyber warfare issues with the president of the United States, Pace said he knows America's
offensive capabilities, but says the nation is ill prepared to defend itself in case of a catastrophic cyber attack.
"The advent of cyber weapons is having the same impact on relations between nations as the advent of nuclear weapons. The difference is that nukes were used and, thank God, have not been used again for the last 60-plus years.
Cyberweapons, on the other hand, are being used "thousands of times every single day."
"We, as a nation, are uniquely vulnerable," said Pace. "Everything that you work on that has a computer or the Internet applied to it, is exposed.
It is not just a military problem. It's a national security problem," said Pace, noting the risks to banking, air and rail systems, the flow of natural resources and telecommunications.
He warned the audience that it could be as few as five years before terrorists have the power to, "reach in and turn off the power in Aberdeen for as long as they want. When they can, they will."
He said the nation must strengthen its defenses against cyber attacks, and that "folks at CECOM and Fort Meade are going to be big players" in this type of warfare.
Pace answered several candid questions from the audience before departing.
His visit was the last in a six-part speaker series hosted by CECOM. He was booked by CECOM through the Washington Speaker's Bureau, a lecture agency that provides some of the world's most renowned leaders and experts.
Pace noted that the speaking fee paid by CECOM will be donated to the Wall Street Warfighters, a nonprofit
organization that mentors and trains disabled veterans for careers in the financial services industry.