On 3 months in Freetown and becoming a manager
Three months in and I still love my job. I’m told that the low point is at about six months, so I figure I’ve got three more months to enjoy myself before frustration sets in.
Right now, the most frustrating parts of my job has been how inadequately trained I am, not in hard skills (GSO School was great, and I was already an excellent project manager), but in soft skills. Managing a section of over 50 people is small potatoes to many of you, but to me, it’s been one adventure after another. It’s one thing to take leadership and supervisory courses at FSI and read the (actually quite excellent) resources that the Department provides, quite another to apply those skills to Getting Things Done every day.
Learning how to be a GSO at the same time I am learning how to manage up and down has been more difficult than I expected. With all the arrogance of a freshly commissioned ELO, I thought I’d be able to sit down here and get straight to work. Well, I have been able to get a fair amount done, but I’ve discovered that here in Freetown, my technical competence (very high) is far less important than my managerial skills (lower, but improving every day). I imagine that this is the case in most Posts.
I keep reminding myself that becoming an excellent leader and manager takes time (decades!). I’m as arrogant and ambitious as they come, and I have to master this skillset to do what I want to do in the Foreign Service. All managers had a first management job sometime in their career. For better or worse, I’m getting my first one over with on my very first tour.