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The Mission: Learning
Shelby said this impact is an agency’s mission. “In the corporate world you have to make a business case and show how you impact the bottom line,” he said. “In the government it’s the mission. You have to understand the mission of your organization so you can make your business case on how you can more effectively accomplish that mission through learning interventions.”
Madsen used similar terms to describe what makes a government CLO different. He said those in his role are stewards of the nation’s money, which requires them to be as effective and efficient as possible. “Our missions are different. Especially at the Department of Defense, we have a critical mission. We are here to defend the nation, and that mission changes constantly,” he said.
Call of Duty
When government CLOs talk about their paths to their current positions, they often speak of being possessed by a spirit of contribution. Lang said there was a point midway through his career when, having worked in government and moved into the private sector, he felt drawn back.
“I was in investment counsel for Merrill Lynch, had my own company, and it was all about making money and doing a lot of good things, but there was a higher calling,” he said. “I realized I could make a difference in government; maybe get paid a lot less but make a difference.”
Shelby shared a similar experience. He got his start in learning when he began developing communications and radar cross-training as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1980s. He eventually got a master’s degree in education and moved into a government job in learning. “I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said. “Helping others reach their full potential is my calling in life because I get so much gratification and joy out of it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Asked what they’d identify as the key characteristics a government CLO needs to be successful, both Lang and Shelby said it requires a keen understanding of the organization. “No. 1 [is] the ability to keep your ears to the ground; to understand what the Congress wants and what the president wants in terms of delivering training to government employees,” Lang said.
The Next Generation of HR: What’s Wrong? What’s Right?
May 23rd 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
Fall 2013 CLO Symposium
September 30th - October 2nd, 2013Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
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