• Describe the experience briefly (What was the background? What triggered the experience? What happened? What was the outcome?)
Both my success and failure experience are derived from the same experience but focus on different aspects of it. As I was nearing the end of my mandatory military service I was given a chance to lead a team of commanders of the training course I was part of. In the last three courses all five commanders on the team were very experienced (with 2-4 courses under their belt). I was given an opportunity to lead the next course with a brand new team of two “green” commanders. In addition, to being heavily understaffed, two complicating factors were added to the mix. First, it was the first course to include female soldiers in a course that was dominated by males. Second, after a few weeks in the course, it was decided that I would be leaving to move to a different department after the three months course. I consider this event to be an important experience because it was the first time I was given responsibility of this magnitude and with implications for both short and long term. While I know that the performance of the course under my lead was above expectations and considered a success in many measures, I view this experience as a personal failure because I was not able to train the next line of leaders enough and after I left, that department suffered from poor performance (to say the least).
• Why was this experience challenging for you?
As I mentioned above, it was the first time I was given this kind of responsibility and as someone who was considered a “star” in the unit a lot was hanging on my shoulders. In my next role I was expected to train commanders and team leaders so being successful myself, was a big part of the authenticity I felt I needed to fill that role (I did not use those words those days, but that was what I thought about).
In addition, I was experiencing a transition from the old team, which members still remain very close up to this day, to the new team, people I did not like as much and did not know a lot about (and haven’t stayed friends with after). I have always been a unique person in our office, having a passion to change and improve the course from the minute I started as a young commander and this was my big chance to prove that “my way” was indeed better. I constantly struggled between keeping the high standards and teaching the new commanders that job and getting used to different forms of personalities and work behaviors.
As a young commander, I was almost always exposed to team leaders that had very experienced commanders under them and could rely a lot on trust and ability of the team. As my team was new, I did not have the experience of my team to fall back upon and as a consequence, had to invent some things “on the go”.
At that time, this was one of the most challenging and longest courses that were held in the unit. It had a lot of characteristics that no other...