In seven months working as an assistant consultant at a non-governmental organization, I have had the opportunity to interact with a person I consider a great leader. The greatness came out in form of their character, motivating personality, how the person was able to work with other subordinates and peers, their tolerance of other people with different and sometimes opposing views, and lastly a strict adherence to integrities. As an assistant consultant, I was assigned to a self-managed team that was responsible for delivering on key project assignments for clients of the organization. Each client has their own packaged solutions incorporating different research and forecasting methodologies to be delivered at the end of the contract period. The type of assignment handled by our team meant that we constantly had to engage different organizations and personas as we conducted our research.
Sometimes project deadlines seemed too narrow between projects and the team had to extend its working hours. Team members did not comfortably accept this and the team leader usually had to dedicate an extra duty to her daily schedule, to ensure that team members maintained a high enthusiasm level for each assignment. The team leader did not mind working side by side with even the most junior members of the team. She connected with individual team members on a personal level and used individualized experiences to form her encouragement and to address concerns about the job as raised by team members. The organization’s top management awarded a bonus to team leaders whose teams met clients’ expectations and delivered their project assignments in time. Our team leader used bonuses as an incentive to encourage team members to adhere to the team’s value of delivering quality before quantity. She extended the bonus to individuals who demonstrated keenness and ethical conduct in their handling of duties assigned. The incentive reinforced the team’s cohesiveness as part of the team’s value was teamwork rather than individual contributions.
On one occasion, a senior team member failed to conduct thorough research for a client and instead assumed conditions of the project were similar to a previously executed project. Therefore, instead of dedicating time for personalized research, the team member edited the parameters of the previously done project and presented them as new research. Our project was therefore submitted earlier than expected and still met most of the client’s expectations and as a result, our team leader was awarded a bonus. She rejected the bonus after discovering the incident just to demonstrate her dissatisfaction with the unethical conduct of the team member.
As the team handled different projects, its membership composition changed as new expertise was incorporated and redundant members were released. However, this dynamic composition did not deter the team leader from instilling the core working values of the team and ensuring that each member was conversant and embraced these values. She demonstrated an ability to tolerate diverse personalities and to suit her leadership behavior to meet their needs. The team leader was humble enough to admit that she was not competent to carry out specific tasks that were beyond her expertise. She insisted that each team member spends quality personal time with a different member so that they know the personal attributes of many members, which is important in tacit engagements and prevention of conflict of interests. To sum up, the team leader embodied the great leadership attributes of ethics, motivation, collaboration, and diversity.