Organizational Change Personal Leadership Development Plan


The case study, “A Successful Downsizing: Developing a Culture ofTrust and Responsibility” evaluates the role of project managers inensuring that they lead and manage their employees effectively. Thecase study, through the role of Judy Stokely as program director of“the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM)” programevaluates how effective leadership can be applied in the successfulimplementation of change within an organization.

In the following discussion, the paper describes the practices ofsuccessful project managers when implementing their management andleadership functions, assesses Judy Stokley’s success, indicatesthe learning behavior change approaches used, analyzes the changeactions taken by Stokely, and creates a leadership development planthat focuses on the promotion of major leadership behaviors andselects strategies that can be used in promoting greater performancelevels.

Practices Applied by Successful Project Managers

Project managers use different practices depending on the purposeand type of project they are managing. However, there are generalpractices employed when exercising leadership as well as managementroles.

The role of project managers is very significant in an organizationbecause they are responsible for ensuring that a project issuccessfully completed and actualized. Hence, one of the practicesinvolves having a vision. As leaders and managers, project managersalready have knowhow on what they have to achieve. Since, the manageris in charge of a team working on the project, he or she, should havea clear vision, which guides the team members on also knowing what isexpected of them to accomplish. Project management is not an easytask, owing to the possibility of uncertainty at each phase of theproject. But with a clear vision, it becomes easier to handlechallenges as team members share the similar objective.

Another practice is the ability to adjust to change. Managers mayassume that what has been effective in the past, might continue to beeffective when handling a current project. However, due to thepossibility of dealing with new challenges, staff, projects and goalsamong other factors, old project management methods may beineffective. Hence, the leader must adjust fast to such changes andbe able to create a new plan. By doing so, it becomes possible forthe manager to be successful. When a manager is incapable ofadjusting to change, a project may be delayed, issues that arise maybe handled inappropriately and he or she may be incapable of managingstaff.

Communication is another significant practice. A successful managershould have proper communication skills, since it is the key toensuring that a project is successful. It is through communicationthat employees are informed about their roles, people share andexchange ideas, and obstacles faced are addressed. The manager shouldalso communicate in a manner that builds the morale of otherindividuals working on the project. For instance, instead ofcommanding roles, the manager should encourage open communicationwhereby people can express their opinions without fear.

Judy Stokley’s Level of Success

Stokley had a high level of success in creating a culture of trustat AMRAAM, while at the same time implementing her plan as depictedusing the three illustrations in the discussion below.

One illustration is in how she made it known to her staff that herobjective was not merely to fire them. But to ensure that everyoneunderstood her reasons for downsizing and those who lost their jobswould be assisted in finding new ones. When Stokley became thedirector, she had to face the challenge of downsizing employees.Considering that most of the personnel had worked at AMRAAM foryears, it was difficult to decide who should leave and who shouldstay, not forgetting the negativity Stokley faced from personnel.However, in order to ensure that people understood and accepted herdecision, she first worked on ensuring that they trusted her motives.She started by informing all employees about the drawdown plan andreassuring them they would be assisted in getting new jobs (Laufer,2012). This reassuring and open communication was a first steptowards creating a culture of trust.

Second, the project director developed trust via the acquisitionreform. Judy Stokley realized that it was impossible for thegovernment and contractors to work together, which made it hard forher to implement reforms in how projects were handled by contractors(Laufer, 2012). As a result, Stokley organized meeting with Hughesand Raytheon key representatives. Through the meetings, she created aforum for project leaders to raise their issues and reasons why itwas difficult to work with government. Together, they worked onresolving the issues, and in the process she developed the trust ofcontractors.

Third, Stokley made all information relating to the AMRAAM programaccessible to all members. Prior to her role in directing theproject, ideas such as the cost study created by Dennis Mallik, theChief Financial Officer was kept secret and only accessible to thedirector. The former director had authorized that the report shouldbe locked up in a drawer (Laufer, 2012). Contrary, Stokley deemed itnecessary to disclose the study’s report to all team members. As aresult, the team was able to trust the motives of their director andagreed with her reform agenda in AMRAAM.

Learning Behavior Modification Strategies

Behavior modification strategies refer to approaches used by leadersto change unwanted actions and substitute them with desirable ones.Such strategies are evident in the case study, apparent through theapproaches used by Judy Stokley in addressing AMRAAM’sorganizational challenges.

One strategy that Stokley used is that she actively participated insolving all the problems faced when directing AMRAAM. This wasapparent in her effort to directly talk to employees, project leadersand contractors. She started by holding a meeting with all employeesonce she was appointed as project director. Knowing well that therewere speculations about some workers losing their jobs, the meetingwas a perfect strategy to address all hearsays (Laufer, 2012). Shealso organized meetings with contractors and specific projectleaders. As the director, Stokley would have simply delegated theroles to her juniors. Instead, she chose to actively be involved,which ensured that she clearly expressed her ideas and was able totackle problems directly and in a timely manner.

The second strategy is behavior modification. As a leader, Stokleywas able to modify her behavior to avoid confrontation. This isperfectly illustrated during her meeting with the base commander.When the commander realized that he would no longer receive fundingfrom AMRAAM money, due to his role as a stakeholder, he was angry anddemanded for a meeting with Stokley. During the meeting, he usedcaustic remarks but Stokley choose to respond courteously (Laufer,2012). Assuming that she also responded to the commandersarcastically, a conflict may have ensued in the presence of otherattending team members. But her courteous behavior demonstrated thatshe was a fit leader for the project as she was able to effectivelydeal with all types of people.

The third strategy is participative leadership. At every step of theproject, Stokley sort the participation of leaders and employees. Sheprovided workers with a channel for expressing their frustration byholding meetings where everyone was issued with note cards and askedto note their grievances or recommendations (Laufer, 2012). The notecards were reviewed and every constructive idea was implemented.Also, Stokley ensured that she did not just impose changes, but tooktime to talk with those involved or would be affected, prior toimplementing the changes.

Actions to Change the Culture

In order for change to be successfully implemented in anorganization, the leader should begin by changing the organization’sculture. This ensures that a relationship based on teamwork, trust aswell as mutual support is created. This is apparent in some of theactions taken by Judy Stokley.

The first action taken by Stokley involved changing the ‘spectree’ specifications. The program was governed by ‘spec tree’,a document that directed how things would be done between thegovernment and contractors (Laufer, 2012). The document was lengthyand for changes to be implemented, government was required to pay thecontractor to write a change proposal. Stokley thought that suchprocedures did not create a teamwork relationship between governmentand contractors. Hence, she created a new ‘spec free’ documentthat was simple and one that improved the relationship between thegovernment side and contractors, in the process changing the workingformer working culture.

A different action involved implementing the “Total SystemPerformance Responsibility” (Laufer, 2012). Prior to Stokley’sappointment, there was no trust between the government andcontractors. The government believed that the latter had to beconstantly supervised. But Stokley ensured that the governmentstopped interfering in the contractor’s job, specifically thedesigning and creating of missiles. This implied that the contractorwould be accountable for building affordable and good missileswithout constant supervision. Hence, the government would have totrust the work done by contractors, and this way a culture of trustwas developed, which resulted in teamwork and support between bothparties.

Another action was the elimination of bureaucracy. The governmentassigned many people to handle a single project, as such there weremany legal procedures required in order to gain approval to completea project. For instance, in order to make changes to a capacitor, itwould take four months for approval to be made (Laufer, 2012). Butwith less people to deal with, decisions would be made faster and thecontractors were able to concentrate on building missiles. Hence,understanding was enhanced between both teams leading to more trust,support and working together.

Leadership Development Plan

The first step that Judy Stokley should take involves setting goalson what she desires to achieve. In order to do so, she should createan individual development plan. It is a tool, which assists in easingthe development of employees. Although Stokley is in a seniorposition of program director, she is still an employee who needs todevelop her career. The plan will assist her in outlining what sheneeds to do, to advance her skills towards becoming a better leader.In addition, the tool can be used to monitor her progress and enhanceresponsibility.

The next step involves determining what will be required of Stokleyin her new leadership roles. There are specific roles designated toher in relation to her position as a program director. However, oncethe position changes, she will most likely require new or moreknowledge, skills and traits. Also, Stokley must work on reviewingthe strategies that have worked for her in her current position andthose that have not. This way, she is able to learn about her weakareas and improve on them, as well as build on her strong areas.

Stokley can endorse the AMRAAM culture in prospect leadership rolesby enhancing her communication skills. Communication is veryimportant in ensuring that employees continue to understand whattheir leader expects. It is also important that she sets clear goals,reviews the mission and vision to match the new culture she hascreated.


The case study demonstrates that the project leader is verysignificant in ensuring that a project is successfully completed. Theleader must be able to apply practices that enhance their managementand leadership. These practices include setting a clear vision,adjusting to change and promoting open communication. The case studyalso demonstrates that a leader should be able to create a culture oftrust within an organization. This is because trust is essential inensuring that team members work as a team.


Laufer, A. (2012). Mastering the Leadership role in ProjectManagement. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions.