Fort Belvoir, Va., –
Editor’s note: This article is part of the Women’s History Month series featuring some of DCAA’s women leaders’ perspectives on leadership.
Leading and managing people is both rewarding and challenging, however, the rewards far outweigh the challenges therefore one should strive to be the top leader in your functional community.
DCAA’s director of Human Capital, Kimberly Litherland, has over 30-years of working for the government and continues to focus on becoming a Senior Executive one day. From the beginning of her career, she aspired to be a leader and looked for opportunities to help her advance up the HR career ladder.
Kim began as an intern with the Air Force and successfully advanced up the ranks to her present position as a GS-15, always working in the Human Resource field. She learned early from a mentor “bloom where planted.” This meant working hard to make improvements in her assigned program area within 18-24 months, and then looking for her next assignment, which in many cases required her to be mobile. She also learned she needed to gain experience outside of the Air Force to be highly competitive for the Senior Executive Service. She applied and was fortunate to land positions in a variety of government agencies including Veterans Affairs, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and Department of Homeland Security, arriving at DCAA in 2017.
During her 30-year career, she made sacrifices, which helped her reach her goals. She never let anyone discourage her; instead, she used it to motivate her up through the ranks. Through her many positions she has learned a number of key lessons: 1) The role of the leader is to lead and manage, not do the work. “I learned I am not the smartest one in the room and I must trust those I am leading,” says Kim; 2) None of us are perfect. “Even I make mistakes and I admit it to my team; your team will respect you more when they see you are humble.”; and 3) Life is too short. “Work hard, but also play hard!”