The interviewer wants to know that you have successfully led a team, under pressure, without succumbing to the stress. Choose an example that is easy to explain. Outline to the interviewer how you kept the project in line with your excellent time management, and precise communication skills. Be sure to highlight the projects most significant successes as well!
"I recently led my team of researchers and recruiters in a retained search for a very high-level talent acquisition project. This project was a difficult one because the client wanted a boutique experience with particular candidate requirements. I asked my team to send me a project highlight at the end of the day, every day. From there, I would review the progress and tweak our plan of action, as necessary. In the end, the positions filled successfully, and our client was appreciative of the close eye our team kept on their hiring needs."
"The first project that comes to mind was a new product launch. I was on the team to develop and test the prototype. Coordinating design engineers, test engineers, and production, sales and marketing were difficult. We made it to the finish just in time to meet the deadline."
"I believe that to be successful on a difficult project, a good leader will always be prepared to critique their plan of action, and pivot when necessary. I had to exercise this when our company acquired a small competitor, and our team size grew by 35% overnight. It was a challenge to shuffle around responsibilities successfully, but I made it happen!"
"The most difficult team project I've taken the lead on would have to be when we migrated our site from WooCommerce to Shopify. It was a big undertaking since we redid the entire layout in tandem, and it required a lot of collaboration across department lines. I took point on the project, particularly as the liaison for communication across teams and with our outside agency that built the site. It took months of planning, coordination, and collaboration, but the outcome was a robust site, and it helped increase sales, too, which was incredible."
"Every project has its challenges, but the most difficult project I led recently was our location's annual inventory count. It's a long day with a lot of moving parts, but we were able to complete it all in time and with a proper count."
"I recently restructured our sales organization, which was a huge undertaking. I was not popular for doing so among the team. However, it was a necessary change. Identifying the best structure was one challenge, but getting buy-in from the teams, many of whom had preferred peers with whom they wanted to work, was tricky. Ultimately, by doing sales contests and getting them to bond as new sales pods, I got them on board."
"I organized a school-wide science fair and invited the community to participate and vote on their favorite projects. It was the first time our school opened the fair to the public. It was well worth it as our students were able to network with local business owners and even some media personalities."
Missed deadlines are never good and can reflect poorly on you, as a leader. The interviewer would like to understand better how you react to disappointment and plans not going your way. Give an example of a time when your team missed a deadline and walk the interviewer through the action that you took.
"My team is highly efficient, and we rarely miss a deadline. When we do, it's surprising. We had a very challenging client last year who made a significant amount of changes throughout the entire project. These changes caused us to miss our deadline. I took action after that to ensure a better client onboarding process. This new process made sure we dug deeper with each client at the start which has resulted in fewer mid-project changes."
"When my team misses a deadline it is disappointing, for sure. On the odd occasion that this has happened, I first ask my team for feedback. I want to know what I could have done better, as a leader, to make sure we hit our goal. Then, I ask them to look internally and tell me what they honestly feel they could have done differently. I prefer a collaborative approach to these types of conversations."
"Deadlines are reached as a team, and they are missed as a team. I truly believe that. When a deadline is missed, I look at how we could have moved better as a machine, to make the delivery happen on time. I do not react negatively to my team members, but I do use situations like this as learning and coaching opportunities."
"Our office is highly collaborative so, when we miss a deadline, we all take accountability. As the leader, I need to be accountable for the project as a whole and for that reason, I always call the client to let them know of any hiccups we are having along the way."
"There are very few deadlines that my team has missed. We are a great mix of personalities, and we will all stay late, if needed, to support each other. I do recall, last year when we did not get our annual inventory count submitted on time. There were technical glitches with a few of the scanners, so employees had to share them. We worked at a fast pace, but also supported each other, yet we still missed. I congratulated my team on pulling together, and then we made a plan to ensure we were prepared, should this type of situation happen again."
"My sales team takes it pretty hard when they miss a deadline, mainly because they are a group of highly competitive individuals. I don't need to be hard on them because they are hard enough on themselves. What I will do is take the situation as an opportunity to better myself as a leader, and strengthen them as a team. We assess, and pivot."
"As a teacher, it is important that I never place blame on my students for a deadline that I missed, or a deadline that I missed because I was rushing through a module, for instance. Education is a team effort, and I am the leader so, for that reason, if a deadline is missed I will always reflect internally, first."
The interviewer is interested in knowing your leadership and management style when it comes to delivering less than pleasant news. Some people have trouble facilitating difficult conversations, so it's essential that you display your ability to be uncomfortable while maintaining a position of authority. Give an example of a time when you had a challenging conversation and explain how you were able to deliver the news professionally.
"I don't believe anyone enjoys delivering bad news; however, as a leader, it is part of what I need to do - sometimes on a weekly or even daily basis. When I have news to share that I know will disappoint someone, I will sit down with them, one-on-one, and express that I know how much the situation meant to them. I will then highlight to my team member what they did very well, and make a plan with them to either try again or come up with an alternate plan."
"Before I deliver bad news, I like to prepare my self for every possible reaction from the person to whom I am delivering the news. I will make sure to have a reply ready for someone who reacts angrily, someone who becomes emotional, and someone who may have a 'cold' reaction. By having a variety of 'conversations' prepared, I can enter an uncomfortable conversation with confidence."
"I learned early on in my management career that you should never joke around or make light of a situation when you are delivering unpleasant news. When I need to have an uncomfortable conversation, I approach the situation as though it were me receiving the news. I am kind, patient, and understanding of their reaction."
"It's important to remember when delivering bad news, that you are having a conversation with someone. I directly deliver the news and then allow the team member to speak their mind. They can vent, and get everything off their chest, before they return to their desk. If the situation is dire, I will invite them to go for a walk to the coffee shop down the road to get some fresh air and blow off some steam."
"When delivering bad news, I make sure to give it to the person straight, and never beat around the bush. That's as bad as receiving the 'We need to talk' text from your significant other. I will talk to the person as soon as possible, and fill them in on the situation. I am always empathetic in my delivery."
"Salespeople are often very specific personality types which means they want detail and as much information as possible. When I have to deliver unsavory news, I will avoid being vague. This approach means collecting as much data as possible before having the conversation. If someone missed their monthly target, for instance, I would sit them down with the monthly numbers and analytics so they can create a vision of where things went awry. We can then make a plan of action together to avoid the situation from repeating itself."
"As an educator, I approach all difficult conversations with the utmost empathy. I know that no student goes out and tries to fail. Everyone wants to succeed it's just that some people may not know how to do that. I will deliver the bad news, an 'F' grade, for example, and then sit down to make a plan with the student on how we can avoid that from happening again. Before ending the conversation, I will give the student one example of what I enjoy or like about them. I aim to always leave a conversation with a student on an encouraging note."
A successful leader focuses' on leading their team members to success, but they must also remember to measure that success. By doing this, you can show your team how far they have come towards reaching their goals, or how much harder they need to work if they miss targets. Employees are usually more responsive in an environment where they know how their performance stacks up again others. Some ways that you can measure the success of your team may include: - Note their attendance, punctuality, or number of sick days. You can then draw a correlation between the employee's performance and their overall engagement levels. - Taking note of how often they help their colleagues to succeed. When your coworkers are winning, so are you! - Looking at the timing between team members, and how quickly they complete everyday tasks. If a job that used to take a team member 2 hours, is now taking up the entire day, this is a sign that they do not have their eye on the prize. - Noticing the amount of times initiative is taken, is another excellent way to measure your team members' success levels. The more proactive everyone is, the more often goals will be achieved. - Measuring the quality of your team members' work is a significant success metric. You can analyze this through customer reviews or co-worker feedback.
"My favorite way to measure the success of my team members is to view their productivity reports, and compare month after month. Then, I share the results with them in their monthly performance reviews. When an employee knows that we notice even a small uptick in their productivity, they are more likely to perform at their peak ability."
"I plan to measure the success of my team members by how engaged they are. I will look at how often they are early for work, how many times they stay late to meet a deadline, or how often they go above and beyond their regular 9-5 to help a client."
"My favorite way to measure success is by noting how many times an employee has helped a coworker. This metric is one that I address in my team's performance reviews as well."
"I measure the success of my team members by how quickly and efficiently a project is completed. After we deliver a project, we all meet in the boardroom and discuss our success, and what we could have done better. I like to equip my team with the information they need to grow and pivot."
"Successes are important to measure. I like to measure proactive activities and praise my team every time I see them taking action without being asked. This initiative could mean going above and beyond for a customer, cleaning areas of the store that receive less attention, or finding new efficiencies to benefit the company."
"My favorite way to measure the success of my team members is through fun competitions that show graph comparisons of each person's performance through a variety of KPI's. This method is an excellent way to make each person aware of their overall performance while keeping things as light-hearted as possible."
"As a teacher, it's important that my students, and their parents, are aware of their success on a regular basis. I start each year by creating an individual learning plan with each student. Every month we review the plan together, and the student is responsible for rating their performance from 1-5. This approach keeps students accountable for their achievements and successes."
Reading books on leadership, and professional development, in general, is essential to your career and personal growth. The interviewer would like to make sure that you are self-aware and invest in yourself. If you spend time investing in yourself, chances are you will also take the time to invest in your employees. Some excellent leadership books include: - "The New One Minute Manager," by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson - "Good to Great," by Jim Collins - "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie - "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," by Patrick Lencioni - "Leaders Eat Last," by Simon Sinek - "Primal Leadership," by Daniel Goleman - "Daring Greatly," by Brene Brown
"The New One Minute Manager,"
"Just this past week I read 'Daring Greatly,' by Brene Brown. The author is well-known in the personal growth space, and this particular book touches on vulnerability and setting out to be extraordinary in all that we do."
"My absolute favorite book on leadership and one that has shaped my management style is 'The New One Minute Manager,' by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It's an older book, originally written in 1982, with a newly revised version. The publication discusses the concept of one-minute goals, one-minute praisings, and one-minute reprimands when necessary. Have you read it?"
"I have read many wonderful books on leadership! Most recently, I have read 'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,' by Patrick Lencioni. I recently heard that the concepts addressed in this book as ones that were implemented by many NFL coaches. The dysfunctions he includes are the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results."
"Right now, I am reading 'How to Win Friends and Influence People.' I know it's an oldie but Dale Carnegie is a staple in the business world, and I believe everyone can learn a great deal from him. I plan to read all of his books, and I encourage my team to do the same."
"The best leadership book I have read, and I am currently reading it for the third time, is 'Good to Great,' by Jim Collins. It's a book about leadership and companies in general. I have learned a lot about what separates a good company from a great company, and how most companies are never excellent, and why."
"I am currently reading "Leaders Eat Last," by Simon Sinek. I like Simon's books and his other teachings because they are realistic and insightful. This particular book focuses on why some teams pull together and why some do not. I plan to take what I learn and implement it in my classrooms, encouraging my students to pull together."
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