For Steve Lawrence, retiring Nevada Field Office Manager (NFO), it was never about the various positions held – it was always about becoming a successful and effective leader.
In 1990, Lawrence’s 31-year career began in the nuclear weapons program office of the Nevada National Security Site’s (NNSS) engineering division, a mid-level leadership post that eventually led to him becoming the Site’s deputy manager in 2007, and then field office manager in 2013.
It was in 1997, while leading a team of 42 people, that Lawrence began to truly understand what it meant to be a leader and not just a boss. “Some of the team thought I was too young for the role, others thought I didn't have the requisite skills or experience, but in the end, most people gave me a fair chance to prove myself,” he said.
Lawrence learned first and foremost that being a leader is not the same as being a good manager or technical expert. Leaders must stay objective, value their people over their own jobs and work outcomes, and always put the team or organizational perspective ahead of their own personal perspectives or desires. This is a hard lesson to learn, and an even harder one to implement, but it is the greatest challenge he sees in people holding or wanting leadership roles. Not being able to take this step makes leaders less effective and fall short of their potential. Lawrence discovered that executive coaching, mentoring, and varied job experiences can help build this leadership skill and mindset.
With his federal career coming to an end, Lawrence is not only thankful for the opportunities he has been given, but the people he has worked with and for. “When I was selected as the Field Office Manager for NFO – the best job I've ever been honored to serve in – it was a position of service to the Site, the Field Office, the NNSA and DOE, and the public. My thanks is foremost to the dedicated people of the NFO, the entire NNSS team, and the NNSA: you all are shining examples of teamwork and dedication that are second to none in the federal government.”