Question: Discuss a recent leadership experience. Briefly outline the situation and then describe your role, how you were effective, and what you learned.
In 2001 Integrity Applications, was hired by Regency Financial to build a content syndication system. This was to be the first system of its kind, which the client desired to have in place in a very short time frame. I was appointed technical architect of this project and was to lead a team of relatively inexperienced developers. This was going to be a tough assignment, requiring long hours of work and extra effort from every team member.
My first step was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different members and assign them tasks accordingly. I kept the toughest and most critical task for myself. As we progressed through the initial stages of the project, there were a number of times, when one or more member appeared dispirited at being stuck with a problem. Some other showed signs of fatigue. It was difficult for me to mentor each one individually, as we were racing against time. So I introduced a new communication concept called “lessons learnt”. Each evening, over a coffee break, the team would get together at a “lessons learnt” meeting to discuss what they learnt that day. Everyone brought up their problems, and how the same were overcome or not. In the latter case, we would collectively suggest solutions. Most of the times, “lessons learnt” related to work and helped teammates learn from each other. Occasionally however, we would indulge in lighthearted banter - once a member shared his “lesson learnt” that taking Haver Street down to the office rather than Leverly Drive took him 437 seconds longer! (yes he actually used a stopwatch to time himself). Such interactions acted as amazing stress busters and we would all get back to work feeling refreshed. My teammates now seemed motivated and put in that extra effort, mainly because they realized they were learning and growing professionally through this effort, leading to a successful delivery and a highly satisfied client.
I too had some vital “lessons learnt” from this entire experience which have helped me grow as a leader. Foremost amongst these was the importance of keeping your team motivated through effective communication. Secondly, I learnt how important it is to lead by example. I was able to quickly gain the respect of my team members because I took on the most difficult portion of the project myself. I also learnt about the importance of managing available resources optimally, in this case inexperienced technical developers.
I have led teams through many difficult projects but the teamwork and productivity of this team is something I am especially proud of.
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