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Judy Stokley’s Level of Success
Successful project managers apply a range of practices, among which there are basic knowledge of the field they work in, personal qualities, technical understanding, and specific management skills and abilities. Fisher and Robbins (2015) argue that effective leaders are aware of the current issues, challenges, and opportunities in their organization, and they understand its mission, vision, and values along with how employees and departments interact.
It is important for leaders to understand the production technology and background information. Fisher and Robbins (2015) emphasize that successful leaders put some emotions in their work, in particular, in interpersonal communication, power, or uncertain situations. Ultimately, they are to apply skills and abilities in making decisions and resolving conflicts.
Judy Stokley is a program director, who implemented the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) project and created a culture of trust and responsibility at Eglin Air Base. Her level of success is great since she implemented a range of useful changes and created an effective team as a directive leader. First of all, she gathered all 200 employees and explained to them that the organization will apply a downsizing strategy in the near future.
In order to cope with employees’ frustration and fear, Stokley made it clear that the core goal is not merely to fire almost half of the staff, but to also help them to find a new job. Even though some extent of anxiety was noted, no serious incidents occurred. This is the first example. The acquisition reform may be noted as the second example. It was the most difficult part of creating trust and connecting contractors, the government, employees, and Stokley herself as a part of the team.
During the meeting she organized with the representatives of Hughes and Raytheon, the project leaders expressed their concerns related to potential risks and the shortage of resources. This allowed making the project participants closer to achieving the key goal in a collaboration that also promoted mutual trust.
The third example is associated with cost study dissemination. Dennis Mallik, the Chief Financial Officer, was responsible for the financial issues that were confidential and accessible solely to the project director. Stokley transformed the cost study, making it available to each of the project members, thus providing them with the opportunity to come with new ideas and discuss them. The mentioned change helped the project managers to begin trusting each other based on the sense of mutual awareness.
During the process of downsizing, Stokley focused on partnership and developed a “heart and soul” relationship between contractors and the government strives to create a win-win situation (Laufer, 2012, p. 131). She introduced a spec tree and a set of performance specifications, so that the product and profits may be transparent and easily controlled.
Learning and Behavior Modification Strategies
Stokley realized learning and behavior modification strategies in an attempt to address the existing organizational problems. She became an active participant in all meetings and discussions regarding both missiles and culture. The director communicated with leaders, employees, managers, and contractors to nurture the culture in the organization. One more strategy applied by Stokley refers to the shared brainstorming.
She understood that radical changes might cause the resistance of employees as well as the overall tension. Therefore, she decided to help them to relax and enjoy together. Once a month, all the employees gathered for the common purpose and brainstormed the concerns. The above strategy proved to be a rather effective one since employees met their deadlines along with the expected quality requirements. It was also useful for them to stay aligned.
The third strategy that may be noted as the behavior modification strategy refers to cognitive behavioral therapy. In particular, it was recognized by the team members that communication with a base commander is a rather difficult and tense procedure due to his character and manner of speaking with employees. The same occurred with Stokley who was criticized and became an object of annoying remarks regarding her activity and strategy of downsizing. Instead of responding similarly, she tried to cope with the negative emotions and thoughts and look positive. This situation was observed by other participants of the briefing, who understood how negative emotions might be handled based on the real-life example. Ultimately, Stokley declared that she would continue following her plan and left.
More to the point, Stokley took the role of an enabler. Clearly understanding that the government does not belong to the manufacturing business unlike the contractors, she decided to let each of them do their work. The key idea here was to provide an insight by means of open communication and working side-by-side so that both of the above parties were aware of their roles. Getting people in touch, Stokley renovated their attitudes to the project and each other and changed their behaviors for the better.
Actions to Change the Project
One of the first actions Stokley initiated refers to the fact that she showed the previously hidden cost study to all project members. Taking into account that this document was available only to the director, while the rest of the team was unaware of their project costs, it is evident that the demonstration helped employees to trust the new director. This was the first step in the creation of a corporate culture of mutual trust.
The example of the so-called mirror exercise may be mentioned as the second action Stokley decided to implement. During this exercise, both the government and contractors were asked to complete a list of issues on their own side and the partner’s side. After that, they started sharing information and discussing existing problems and opportunities. It became evident that there is little trust between them, yet the problem was discovered and clearly presented. As a result, this promoted the productive discussion and trust between the team members.
Stokley prioritized the goals and made her position rather transparent. As noted by Brock McCaman, the program manager, “when Judy came to us and said, ‘here’s my budget … we could not keep repairing missiles the way we always had – the money was not there” (Laufer, 2012, p. 139). This shows that Stokley was extremely apparent and unambiguous in her actions. For example, she introduced an innovative way of saving money on repairing. She suggested reporting the government about every problem and discussing the potential ways to resolve the situation together.
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In the course of the process of downsizing, Stokley initiated a range of actions that in a collaboration led to the success of her plan. Feedback is one of the most essential actions she introduced. This new director comprehended that every employee has some concerns about his or her work. In this regard, she put an end to unconstructive criticism and created a platform to share dissatisfactions and concerns related to the workplace. According to Goetsch and Davis (2014), feedback is a fundamental tool to empower employees for the achievement of great results. In particular, each of the employees acquired the opportunity to receive timely and productive feedback as well as comment on the work of others in an appropriate manner.
Personal Leadership Development Plan
Developing the personal leadership plan for Judy Stokley, it is important to state that her experience presents a great foundation for her further professional growth as a leader. The key leadership behaviors she may develop are related to learning and performance changes. For example, it is rather significant to focus on communication issues to engage employees in the open dialogue, thus helping them to exchange ideas and work more productively. It may be recommended to enhance the skills of both verbal and non-verbal communication, since along with verbal statements in one or the other form, gestures, pose, eye contact, etc. also matter.
In order to promote a higher level of performance as a leader, the transformational strategy of leadership may be applied. Breevaart et al. (2014) state that transformational leaders not only challenge the current state of affairs, but they also seek to stimulate and encourage creativity in the work of those they lead. Stokley should work on encouraging the team members to discover new ways of doing the work and using all the opportunities to learn something previously unknown.
Transformational leadership also includes the support and empowerment of individual workers. To ensure the assistance for each team member, transformational leaders are always open to communication, so their subordinates do not hesitate to share their ideas with them. Stokley should be ready to recognize the uniqueness of each employee’s contribution to the common cause. The transformational leader has a clear understanding of how to articulate plans and tasks for employees and also help to get enough motivation to accomplish them (Breevaart et al., 2014). It also seems important to pinpoint the fact that the transformational leader should serve his or her followers as a role model. After all, when those who follow a person respect and trust him or her, they begin to adopt his or her way of thinking, ideas, and values to some extent.
Considering that Stokley focuses on trust and culture promotion in AMRAAM, it is possible to suggest that she should re-consider such vital issues as the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Adopting culture promotion as a part of the mission, she will clearly identify the goal every employee should strive to achieve. Moreover, as a new director, she is expected to demonstrate excellent knowledge of the product, the industry, and the market as well as some technical awareness (Northouse, 2016).
While making decisions as a leader, it is beneficial to apply a communicative approach and initiate a number of training sessions for employees (Fairhurst & Connaughton, 2014). In particular, such issues as communication challenges and how to mitigate them are to be taught to them in the course of open discussions. It is expected that Stokley will successfully maintain the corporate culture and mutual trust in the team by implementing the mentioned actions in collaboration with the government and the contractors.
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Laufer, A. (2012). Mastering the leadership role in project management: Practices that deliver remarkable results. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.
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