Considering the Three P’s

p7I have the privilege of talking to young professionals who are considering or planning a transition from military service to a career in corporate America. Through these conversations, I find that people sometimes have trouble defining their leadership experiences. To help in this, I like to encourage people to consider the Three P’s: People, Problem Solving and Project Management. These three categories capture the preponderance of situations where leadership is put into practice. When thinking about your leadership experience, consider:

  • People: Think about people in two ways. First, consider those you have led directly. These would be individuals and teams that you have had direct authority over and have led to reach difficult objectives. Consider where you have catalyzed action, developed an engaged team, motivated them to success and created unity, buy-in and team pride. Work to define how you did that, and why it was important to the overall success of the organization. Second, consider those who you do not have directly authority over. Generally, that is peers and bosses or those who outrank you. How do you gain trust and demonstrate competence? How do you use interpersonal skills to lead through collaboration and idea leadership?
  • Problem Solving: Leaders are problem solvers. They take the initiative to evaluate a broken or inefficient system or process. They value the process of conducting an in-depth root cause analysis, a thorough course of action development and find themselves most often at the point of friction during the implementation of a solution. Consider your leadership process of solving problems. How do you identify a problem and when have you taken a step-by-step, measured approach to solving a problem for the good of the organization?
  • Project Management: According to the Project Management Institute, a project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined in scope and resources. A project is also unique because it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. Project management, then, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Either through a formal project management process or through a natural ability to conceptualize and manage a project to an expected outcome, leaders manage projects. Think about your leadership experience in terms of defining stakeholders, the project scope, schedules, tasks and objectives and the overall management to complete a defined project on time and on budget.

A practical method for further defining each category is to consider the HOW and the WHY. How did you specifically lead in a particular situation, and WHY was that important to the overall goals of the organization? Considering your leadership experience from the perspective of the Three P’s and using HOW and WHY to provide depth to your analysis should get you thinking about your leadership in the right way.

Best of Success,
Pete Van Epps