Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gail Williams, Leadership Innovator at NASA

Gail Williams enjoyed a 36+-year career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  She retired in September 2010 and is now an Emeritus at Goddard.  We'll convene with Gail for dinner and discussion on October 29th, 2012.

Gail started a 21-year acquisition management career in 1974, beginning as a GS-5 entry-level contract specialist.  She rose through the ranks to middle management after serving as the Chief of the Procurement Support Division, as well as Acting Procurement Officer.  In 1995, she began a 14-month detail at the Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), returning to Goddard in 1996 as the Special Assistant to the Goddard’s Chief Financial Officer managing the Center’s Workforce Refocusing Program.

As part of her Workforce Refocusing Program responsibilities, in 1997 Gail was tasked with organizing “Focus on Our Future Day” at two NASA Goddard locations.  All Goddard employees were encouraged to learn about Goddard’s future direction and how to effectively support large scale change.  An outgrowth of this activity was the establishment of the Center Director’s Colloquia Series – now award winning and 15 years old.  The series is currently known as the Exploring Leadership Colloquia Series.

While supporting Goddard’s Office of the CFO, Gail was asked to lead an Agency-wide activity to develop competency based career development guidelines for the almost 1,000 financial and budget people at NASA.  This resulted in a several-year commitment and the development of guidance that was labeled a Federal Best Practice by the U.S. CFO Council.

In 2001, the Goddard CFO asked Gail lead an effort and to design a leadership development program for the financial and resources management community of ~350 people at Goddard.  This resulted in a 7-year stint as Program Manager for Goddard’s award winning Leadership Alchemy Program.  Leadership Alchemy was a transformational, state-of-the-art program that earned national and international recognition for the benefits derived by both the participants and the organization.  When speaking at the first national Followership Conference at Claremont-McKenna University on the impact of Leadership Alchemy, Gail was asked to write an article that was subsequently published in the book The Art of Followership.  The article is titled “The Hero’s Journey to Effective Followership and Leadership:  A Practitioner’s Focus.”  Gail was a guest contributor to The Washington Post's "On Leadership Column."

Over time, Gail’s job in the OCFO morphed into supporting strategic and cultural change and leadership development.  She served as an internal consultant to the CFO and the entire CFO management team. In the spring of 2009, Gail joined the Office of Human Capital Management as the Special Assistant to the Director of Human Capital.  She served as Program Manager for the newly awarded Leadership Development and Excellence in Management Program.

Gail’s undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School.  In October 2000, Gail earned a certificate in organizational learning from George Mason University and is certified as a coach by The Newfield Network. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Business of Community

What do the Bank of America, Susan G. Komen Foundation and the government of Egypt have in common? For each of them, online conversations extended and ignited activism that forced them to alter decisions about products, policies and leadership. Networked communication environments are creating unprecedented opportunities for individuals and groups to be heard and every organization should be paying attention.

The speed of information access and distribution, fueled by cheap and pervasive technology, is driving a profound need to change our organizations and management approaches. Social business is an effort to make organizations more human, adaptive and resilient in order to mitigate risks and address new opportunities. At its core, social business is about optimizing our human resources, which are now the most critical and expensive asset for all organizations.  On September 18th, Rachel will share lessons learned and stories to connect these macro issues to the changes organizations are making at the operational level, including the critical role of community structures.

Rachel Happe (@rhappe) is a co-founder and principal at The Community Roundtable, a company dedicated to advancing the business of community. The Community Roundtable provides education, training, and advisory services to community and social business leaders. Rachel has over fifteen years of experience working with emerging technologies including enterprise social networking, eCommerce, and enterprise software applications. Rachel has served as a product executive at Mzinga, Bitpass, & IDe, and as IDC’s first analyst covering social technologies. She started her business career as an analyst at PRTM, after a stint working in the office of the Deputy Chief of Navel Operations the Pentagon. Rachel serves on the Enterprise 2.0 Conference Advisory Board and as an Isis Parenting Fellow. She writes at informationweek.com/thebrainyard and thesocialorganization.com.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

SES or "Manager of One" - Federal Leadership Opportunities Abound

Do you aspire to a formal leadership position within your organization?  You know - leading people and managing work, whether as a supervisor, manager or executive.  If the answer is yes, is your aspiration rooted in a genuine desire and feeling that this is your path?  Or, does it spring from a feeling that only the formal organizational leaders get respect and top pay, can make change, and are offered interesting opportunities? 

There is a way for you to craft a satisfying career as a nonsupervisory “Manager of One,” no matter where you are in the organization, that also preserves your options.  As Fried & Hansson (37 Signals), suggest in their New York Times Bestseller, Rework:
Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them. They don’t need heavy direction. They don’t need daily check-ins. They do what a manager would do – set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc. – but they do it by themselves and for themselves.
Does this mean you can cowboy off into the sunset and do your own thing?  Absolutely not.  You must be in close alignment with organizational goals and objectives in order to understand how your actions can lead to results that will matter to the 314 million people we serve.  Some people resemble the Fried & Hansson description coming into the organization, whereas others develop over time the ability to make things happen from any position that plays to their strengths.  Effective preparation for either path (Senior Executive Service or Manager of One) begins with a willingness to push beyond one's comfort zone, the development of competence and confidence based on small wins, and a permanent shift into continuous learning mode.

Keep an eye on the 2012 Next Generation of Government Training Summit site, where all sorts of resources that can support your path toward either goal - SES or "Manager of One" - will be posted in the days following the July 26-27 conference.