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The Defining Elements of Leadership

What is effective Leadership? What is your leadership style? Provide examples where you have show leadership skills? I believe that a leader is only as good as his followers. Being a leader means not only being capable

yourself but also developing the skills of your people. It is the task of a leader to develop the members into a united team, leverage their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. A leader must take complete ownership of the people under him.

Polaris Software Lab Ltd. grappled with the problem of completing the ‘Jamaica Central Securities Depository’ project. My penchant for focusing on the big picture meant I relished the opportunity to lead the design change and integration of the project that was using core and advanced Java and AS/400.

I realized that with the increased focus on time-to-market, cost reduction and quality implementation, I had to form a high-performing team that would believe in the power of common purpose, value interdependence and emphasize responsiveness and creativity. My mission was daunting yet challenging: setup a 6 member, diverse (in terms of experience, expertise and culture) team and ensure commercial and technical expertise.

The team members were enthused by the stretch goals that we faced. We had to pilot a proof of concept, but before that we had to finalize the architecture, setup monitoring and reporting systems, resolve technical issues, train the new members – and do all this and more within a month!

Yet, the team posed its peculiar set of problems. Discussing relatively routine tasks in meetings became fraught with interpersonal friction when people were staying up past their bedtime. Opinion differences were taking centre stage, and hostility and annoyance had replaced trust and respect.

As senior member of the project, I immediately arranged a week long face to face meeting and struck a fine balance between team empowerment and upfront leadership. I decided to establish a leadership position by focusing on business goals, establishing good relationships and building team spirit. To this end, I tried to create an open & comfortable work environment for my team. I built their trust in me by listening to their problems and providing them the support they needed to improve their skills and their performance. I motivated them by publicly praising their efforts and by encouraging them to be creative and take more initiative. I concentrated on building team spirit by celebrating the team’s successes as a group and by encouraging them to share best practices with each other.

We delegated responsibility based on synergy and interest. The team developed a ‘bulldog’ mentality. It was no longer a matter of “if” we succeed, but “when” we succeed. With a clear goal in mind, we ‘rolled up our sleeves’ and the first pilot was completed in 38 days. The team-momentum became both self sustaining and overwhelming. In the next 3 months, our team was in the constant limelight with successful change implementation and integration of the project. We were recognized for delivering with speed, and meeting targets.

There is no greater example of leadership and teamwork than the successful manned mission to the moon in July 1969. Drawing inspiration from this event and eager to explore new frontiers, our team had also taken a “small step” in helping open new ways in which Polaris Software Lab conducted business.