The following essay was submitted to the LBS MBA program by our client. The client was accepted to the program.
My leadership experience includes mainly my managerial experience at my company. The greatest challenge I faced was building my research team at my company.
When I entered my current position, after the replacement of the company's CEO, I knew I had to make changes in the company's structure and methodologies. Up till then, the company was a "one man show". The previous CEO had worked directly opposite freelance analysts, and neither organized work processes nor research methodology existed. The company relied solely on the analyst's personal abilities, which caused inconsistency in projects' quality and customers' dissatisfaction.
In order to change that, I hired 5 research managers, re-defined responsibilities and tasks throughout the company, and spearheaded the formulation of a new research methodology. The new methodology gave us an edge over our competitors, and established the company as a brand name for quality research.
One of the most difficult decisions I had to make was firing Karen, a veteran member of my team. Transforming my company into a leading research firm required a devoted team that was committed to this goal, and willing to make extra efforts. This vision did not fit Karen. She was looking for a laid back position, and although talented, she did only the necessary minimum.
I faced a tough decision. On the one hand, to fire an experienced employee, in a time when most of the employees were new, seemed unwise. On the other hand, not firing her would mean establishing double standards for our employees, and might cause resentment in the entire team.
After I failed to change her attitude, I decided to fire Karen. Although I knew that in the short run things would get difficult, I concluded there was no other way. I needed the most dedicated team possible, and Karen, as head of a major division, would have undermined this effort in the long run.
Personally, making the decision was very hard. It meant firing a colleague, with whom I had worked closely for a long time. However, in the long run, team spirit improved greatly and I succeeded in building the right team to lead the company forward.
I believe that the role I will play in my study group will be the level-headed planner, who analyzes a complicated situation, prioritizes tasks, and assigns responsibilities. I will be the one that tries to find the solution when there seems to be a dead end and points out the hard facts that others prefer to overlook. When other people are in charge, I will be the one they go over their plan with, in order to find pitfalls and loose ends. On the other hand, I'll also be the one encouraging the team that we can conquer whatever destination we set our mind into, and willing to take a risk in order to achieve that.