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CrossTalk: The Journal of Defense Software Engineering. Volume 19, Number 11

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I believe the most valuable skill of a manager or leader at any level is their ability and willingness to learn. My wife calls this having a teachable spirit. Whether we are new to management or are a senior executive, we have to be willing to learn. Ive taken lots of courses and seminars on how to manage and lead people but my most valuable teachings come from life experiences and studying other successful and unsuccessful leaders. Lessons that didnt come from textbooks or speakers have had the most influence on how I lead people. If there was one piece of advice that I could give to all new managers who want to be successful, it is to watch and learn. My first life lesson as a manager has stuck with me my whole career. I vividly remember when I first entered management. I had just completed a masters degree in management, and thought I knew what kind of leadership style best fit my personality and values. I quickly learned that one leadership style does not fit all people. Some people wanted to be empowered and left alone. Some people needed clear and daily direction. Some people needed more praise than others. In general, different people excelled or responded to different styles so I quickly learned the value of situational leadership. I think a similar thing can be said about how we manage projects. As large organizations, we tend to have rigid or one-size-fits-all processes. But we managers need to listen to our project leads and do what is going to make the project excel. It is easy to say that we have a process and we must follow it, but one-size-fits-all processes can be just as ineffective as one-size-fits-all leadership. Whether you are leading people or managing projects, the key to improving your contribution is your willingness to learn.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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