Positive Leadership in Project Management – Managing Your Leadership Role
Leaders, regardless of personal style and skills, should have a personal management and maintenance plan. Just like a vehicle needs maintenance every 10,000 miles or a machine needs care and attention to keep it running smoothly, or a project needs a review at the end of each phase, leaders need some type of leadership maintenance check. Even if things appear to be going well, we schedule check-ups for our cars, equipment we use, and even our own bodies.
So, why not a
Leadership Review? If your project is progressing smoothly and your team is
working well together, take some time to find out why things are doing so well.
If things were going poorly you can be sure there would be inquiries, reviews,
audits and lots of questions. Your leadership skills have much to do with the
success of your project and the ability of the team to work together. It is
more beneficial to know what works than to know what doesn’t work. Doing more of the
actions and behaviors that make things work will help to reduce the things that
distract people and create problems.
In a seminar I attended several years ago, the speaker emphasized the need to focus on what he referred to as positive behaviors of the people in an organization or on a team. Constantly looking at the negatives increases the awareness of the negatives and results in more attention paid to those behaviors and actions. This is an undesirable situation. Think about it this way: constantly bringing up problem areas, highlighting poor performance, always looking to blame someone would certainly undermine the capabilities of even the strongest team members. I don’t know too many coaches who spend their time discouraging their team by pointing to failure after failure. Teams become winners by building their skills and confidence. Focusing on the positive behaviors results in more teamwork, more productivity, higher morale and increased motivation.
You can see this approach in action in the movie Miracle. The movie provides an excellent view of a coach’s determination to build a team that believes in itself. It takes a lot of energy to be a leader and occasionally a leader needs a little rest to recharge, look back, look ahead, and look around. Strong leaders who are passionate about their organizations, teams, or goals occasionally go just a step too far and start running on borrowed energy. This reserve energy will eventually run out and when that happens, the machine can break down. Before breakdown occurs, it makes sense to have a leadership maintenance plan or a leadership recharging process in place to keep the team going and to give them a feeling of stability. Just like a business has a disaster recovery and business continuity plan, every leader needs a leadership recovery and continuity plan. Here are a few thoughts and ideas that may keep your leadership engine running smoothly and effectively:
- Display enthusiasm: Show your team that you really enjoy working with them. Enthusiasm is contagious and you will find that it increases teamwork and reduces your personal stress by emphasizing the positives.
- Sense of Urgency: Ensure that your team is aware of the importance of the project and how they are needed to make it successful. This will help reduce unproductive time and reduce the time spent supervising. It will give you a better opportunity to observe the team in action.
- Spend time with your team: Ask questions, recognize good performance and, most importantly, listen, and then respond to their suggestions. Leaders who connect with their teams will spend less energy managing them.
- Communicate: A
well-informed team reduces the need for meetings and provides more time to
accomplish tasks. Failure to communicate effectively
creates stress for both sides and results in significant time spent clarifying and explaining.
- Check your power level: What types of power are you using? Is it reward, penalty, formal, referent or expert? Maybe a combination of all types. Evaluate how you use power to get things done. Power doesn’t have to be at full blast or at maximum all of the time. Use your internal power adjustment controls and regulate how you use power. Running at maximum will wear you down.
- Schedule a
leadership review: There are lots of tools available to obtain
feedback about your leadership effectiveness, from a 360-degree feedback
process to a one on one discussion. Sometimes we behave in a manner that causes problems and uneasiness among our team but, since there is no obvious indication that a problem exists, we continue to act the same way. We need feedback to obtain information about how our projects are doing and we need feedback to determine how we, as leaders, are being perceived.
- Take a break: Give authority to someone else every once in a while. Show your trust and respect. Take a few days off. Exercise a little. Practice Healthful Leadership by taking care of yourself as well as the team. The team needs you, so don’t push too far.
Remember what Clint Eastwood said in the movie – The Enforcer: A man got to know his limitations or, to take this to the next level: A persons got to know his / her limitations!
Take some time and check your leadership power supply. Develop a plan to keep yourself charged up. Build in some recharge time. Don’t burn out your team either. Build some enjoyment into your project. As Tom Peters said, make your project a WOW project. People should look at your project and your team and say, Wow, I wish I were on that team!