WashingtonExec has been reaching out to successful leaders in government and government contracting to learn more about their habits, experiences and perspectives.
Zach Parker has served president, CEO and board director of DLH Corp. since 2010. Prior to joining DLH, Parker held various leadership roles at Northrop Grumman Corp., VT Group, GE Government Services and VSE Corp. He is active in numerous professional and community associations.
WashingtonExec: What’s on your reading list?
Parker: Normally a Maxwell, Sanborn or Lencioni guy, this fiscal year I lead off my reading with “The Best Team Wins” by Gostick & Elton. (I also provided it to my executive team over holidays). They did a great job of combining inspirational real-life stories along with extensive contemporary research into today’s workplace. They also did a great job of communicating with simplicity covering:
- The dynamics of multigenerations in the workplace
- Job-sculpting concept
- Prioritizing productivity
- Seek (not avoid) critiques
- …and yes, customer focus
I found it to be incredibly germane to the current state of our company, particularly as we were completing a transformational integration of companies and culture. Two key takeaways were to constantly publicly praise top performers in innovative ways while also “challenging everything” on a regular basis to drive performance improvement.
Summertime read was our industry colleague John Hillen’s new masterpiece in collaboration with Dr. Mark Nevin, “What Happens Now? Reinvent yourself as a Leader Before Your Business Outruns You.” This unique leadership was outstanding in the manner in which they focused the reader themselves rather than typical anecdotal clichés. The book was a handout at our leadership conference this year where John was a keynote speaker. I am ready to get “Unstuck!”
WashingtonExec: Tell me about a time in your life when you had to really stretch yourself in order to learn and grow.
Parker: Without question, my biggest stretching comes when I am on mission or humanitarian trips to third-world country locations. It never ceases to amaze me how much in life we take for granted and how much we can do for the less fortunate. I am constantly re-grounded upon return from events where I fully tax myself through giving of self. As Mahatma Ghandi once said, “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
WashingtonExec: If you could go back and give your younger self career and/or life advice, what would you say?
Parker: Simple, “Never stop dreaming.” Valid then and now.
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite city to visit? What do you enjoy doing there?
Parker: Recent trip to Spain has propelled Barcelona to the top of the list. Easy access to so many awesome cultural artifacts, beautiful ocean settings and great food made it truly special.
WashingtonExec: Tell me about an app, device or type of technology you personally love and why.
Parker: Natural Language Programming. As a human factors junkie, I think our ability to communicate seamlessly in an IT and AI environment has been transformative and offers even greater potential in the future both in the home and on the battlefield.