Thankfully, in my role I have become experienced in dealing with multiple stakeholders. I utilized my transformational leadership skills to have all stakeholders buy into my vision of the project, allowing me to shape the project in a manner that would allow me to deliver satisfactory results to all of the stakeholders.
I knew that I was going to demand a lot from all of the different stakeholders, and therefore I needed to lead by example. I took this as the core of my vision for my leadership. I was a situational leader, moving between transformational and transactional as the situation required. I was tough when necessary, in particular with respect to ethics, but I was also able to make contributions that improved the positivity surrounding the project. I worked with the union representative to build a set of disciplinary actions based on my code of ethics, which goes beyond our organization's. This was difficult, but these were the records of our military personnel, so I knew that the standard of ethics needed to be greater than for our typical jobs. I made ethics a part of the training process as well, because I knew that everybody needed to have the same view of the ethical standards involved in this project.
I also fostered a high degree of communication. I recognized at the outset that this project was going to entail two main challenges to communication. The first is that the workers were going to largely be independent, each with a substantial amount of work each day. I also knew that communication plays an important role in the task because it is a control mechanism for management and also to keep up morale among the workers. To that end I made communication a part of the training as well, and spend extra time training the team leaders with respect to communication. I emphasized the problem-solving role that communication plays, and the value that high levels of communication would bring to the team leaders in their assessments at the end of the project.
I had a strict timeline, and measured our progress daily by way of completed sets of paperwork. The sets took different times, so the pace varied slightly, which meant that over the life of the project I paid more attention to weekly data, which smoothed out some of...
I set an example by knowing as much about the project as the employees did -- I trained them so they would know that I was an expert and therefore was the right person to lead, and a good person to listen to with advice about the project.
Part of ensuring that the team was successful was reinforcement of good behavior. I had daily and weekly statistics to use in order to give public and private praise to the highest performing workers, teams and managers. This created a sense of internal competition, but it also allowed all of the workers to be part of a winner at some point in the project. The rewards were minor -- I used Starbucks gift certificates for weekly individual top performers -- but it was mostly the recognition that mattered.
I learned a lot about leadership from this experience. With a complex project I was able to see how complex the leadership task can be at times. The experience supported my views that situational leadership is a great skill, being able to move between transactional leadership and transformational, and sometimes perform both at the same time. That I was able to motivate this team and bring them to excel in a difficult task, all while balancing the needs of half a dozen stakeholder groups was a huge challenge. However, I was able to meet this challenge. I learned new ways to motivate, and used these to motivate even those who were not my employees such as the union rep. I learned how important planning and training can be when there is a tight timeline with which to work. It is essential that just the right amount of time is spent on each task and by doing so more work can be done than otherwise would have been possible.
The military personnel document project was the most challenging on which I have worked. I was faced with a tight timeframe to complete a complex task. I feel that I succeeded largely because I was able to utilize a number of different leadership skills. Some are traits that are innate in me, but some of the other skills were ones that I learned especially for this project. My team saw that, and was willing to learn new skills as well. This was one of the most important reasons why the project was such a success.
I worked hard to organize the project, but ultimately if I did not also bring transformational skills and strong intrinsic motivators to the table I would have had difficulty keeping the team focused as the weeks went on. Ultimately, this is why I believe that the military personnel records project is the most significant of my leadership career. I made the absolute most of every asset and resource that I had in order to get a difficult and massive task completed under time, on budget and with a better accuracy rate than was demanded. I have even taken the lessons that I learned in this project and applied them to my other projects as…
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