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Steely determination can deliver big benefits

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My name is Leo O’Shea and I’m DIO’s new Director of Service Delivery. In April, I moved permanently from the US to my temporary home in London, then on to my temporary home in the Midlands, and then finally, in July, I took up permanent residence in this part of the world.

Leo O'Shea, DIO Director of Service Delivery
Leo O'Shea, DIO Director of Service Delivery (Photo: Crown copyright/MOD 2014)

While some may be chuckling, I actually find the Midlands to be quite beautiful. The rolling hills, densely populated urban areas surrounded by quite stunning farms and open green areas remind me very much of my childhood home in Pennsylvania.

I’m quite pleased with where I have ended up and look forward to getting to know the people that surround me. I’m already quite good friends with my neighbours and life is settling into a routine for my wife and me. Life is good.

Moving on to the topic of work, I have been quite impressed with the eagerness of the vast majority of the DIO team to take on the existing challenges they face and look for ways to meet the ultimate objective of delivering a safe place to train, live and work for the military and their families.

The ‘steely determination’ to carry on with a lot of distraction and noise around them has been invigorating for me and I find myself getting caught up in the emotions of the teams around me. It’s particularly compelling when I find I am getting worked up about things we, as the senior leaders can improve. I have to check myself and take on the actions needed to resolve these emotional issues and improve the team’s performance.


I am a big believer in doing the little things well, in doing the little things right and the big things will get done in due course. To encourage this idea that even the small things are important, I have started a small campaign called ‘Caught Doing Something Right’.

Thank You
Thank You (Image: Woodleywonderworks/Creative Commons)

This is just a small note to nominated employees that are noticed by their line managers doing the right thing well, or perhaps, just going that extra small step to make someone or something just a little better. There is no money or big notice in a newsletter, just a small ‘thank you’ note signed by me or another member of the senior leadership team thanking them for their efforts. While it might sound a little corny, I think a few such notes might just be a catalyst for each us looking out for each other. 


I’ve had my first team meeting with senior leaders of the Service Delivery area and I am quite pleased with the engagement I see coming in from their teams. I am focusing on measuring and reporting progress for now, and attempting to change the dynamic of the organisation a bit, where what we write down on paper as important to us is actually what we talk about in the hallways and meeting rooms.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) civilian and military staff are pictured at a meeting in Main Building, London. (Harland Quarrington; Crown Copyright)
DIO staff are primarily civil servants, but there are a number of military personnel too. Here, Ministry of Defence (MoD) civilian and military staff are pictured at a meeting in Main Building, London. (Harland Quarrington; Crown Copyright)

I have a very precise view of the world when it comes to working a plan. We must have that discipline and it starts with accurate planning, accurate measurements and honest reporting of progress. In SD, I intend to have that discipline.

I’m looking forward to continue working with this team. I have not felt this energised about work in a few years, and I honestly find myself smiling a bit more too, because the will to succeed is in the team and the desire to be the best is a bit more than a spark.

I look forward to the day when we are all smiling a bit more and all of us feel like our parts of the organisation are contributing and pulling in the right direction. I have been there when large organisations have that realisation and it is a great feeling. I want to have it again, and from everything I see, I think it is achievable.

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