In my first few years of serving in the army, I developed various apps to increase my team’s efficiency. One particularly hard and time-consuming task known to every analyst team in the army haunted me. Solving this issue, which could provide such widespread impact, became my Everest.
My first proposed solution was underwhelming. The commanders dismissed the project, saying that it would require too much time and reassigning several people, all for limited potential value. Convinced of its significance, however, I refused to give up.
After 3 weeks of rethinking, internalizing the feedback, gathering reviews from analysts in different teams and all in all improving my solution I was given one month and a team of 3. Not nearly enough. But we had to sprint up Everest, so we set to work.
With little time, I dedicated most of my waking hours to the project. Collecting, processing and prioritizing the individual needs of every analyst team was time-consuming, but the tool needed to serve everyone. The analysts assigned to me were not direct reports and some were older and hesitant to cooperate. To win their loyalty, I regularly emphasized the project’s importance and the effect our success would have.
One month later, we launched the project, receiving many compliments from the formerly skeptical battalion executive officer and commanding officer. It was adopted by every analyst team in the army, saving over 100 hours/week of analyst work.
This experience taught me that I can initiate and execute my own ideas, and that being relentless, trusting my understanding, and believing in my ability to lead and execute complicated tasks can conquer mountains.
I identify with Andrew Carnegie, who’s ultra-innovative ideas revolutionized how steel was made. For years I have been inspired by his leadership styles and values, which included setting lofty goals for his company’s growth, advocating work-life balance, and giving back to society.
Combining elements of the coaching and pragmatic styles of leadership, Carnegie was very supportive of his employees, motivating, guiding, and helping them to unlock their full potential. A notable example was Charles Schwab, whom Carnegie mentored from young engineer to president of Carnegie’s steel empire at age 35.
My leadership style has been patterned on that of Carnegie. When leading a project, I devote time to mentoring and training any team members in need, so they can be invested and play a crucial part in the project’s success. If I call upon members to work late at night, I insist that we all allocate time for other important things, from exercise to family. I also always strive to make time to give back to the community, so despite a very stressful few years with almost no free time, I still found time to volunteer for the army reserves.
At ESADE, I intend to continue in this same vein, setting high goals and devoting myself to them, as well as supporting the growth of others.