Most project managers will agree that the duties of the project manager are extremely challenging. The job requires a balance of managerial and leadership skills plus some business knowledge and a dash of miracle worker. A quick analysis of the state of project management today indicates, with very exceptions, the following traits:
•Tighter time lines
•Quick and reliable execution
•Enhanced brand recognition
•Extreme cost and quality control
I think most project managers can say without hesitation; “been there, done that” or, for many of us, “still there, still doing that.”
The career project manager accepts these demands and plans a strategy that will guide him or her through the many trails and challenges that can be expected. Part of that strategy is to continue developing leadership capability. Leadership, like quality, is not a destination; it’s a journey and one can expect to encounter many tests along the way.
A statement expressed many years ago by McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc helps us to understand a little more about leadership and to assist us in developing a strategy for success. He said “Happiness is a by- product of achievement.” If an employee has pride in what he or she has done, and the work is recognized by management, that employee will become a willing and enthusiastic part of a winning team. Project managers need a winning team and effective leadership is the key factor, regardless of project size and complexity.
It is extremely important for people to be proud of what they are doing and how they are contributing to the end goal. The leader of the team, you, the project manager, must create an environment where pride, success, and loyalty come together in the form of a highly motivated and capable team. The question is, how do we create that high performing team? One answer is through “Positive Leadership.” You may be asking: What exactly is that? Positive leadership focuses on what people do right and what their strengths are. Some leaders believe that the best way to improve performance is to focus on developing weak areas. That focus actually detracts from the ultimate goal – greater performance.
Leaders who see the talents of their followers seek to build on those talents. The natural result is the continued development of the individual’s most useful and benefit producing skills, while building those skills that have not fully developed. It’s a win-win approach for everyone. According to leadership experts, Positive Leadership includes well- grounded principles and techniques to promote outcomes such as thriving at work, enhanced interpersonal development, virtuous behaviors, positive emotions, energized workforces and teams, and organizational loyalty.
Positive leadership is somewhat like creating a formula for success. A positive leadership formula may include: One part imagination, one part innovation, one part education, one part mentoring, one part self-confidence, one part pride in oneself, one part knowing your people and their needs, a large portion of commitment, some passion, and a healthy amount of instilled pride. You have heard the saying, “catch someone doing something right.” That is the essence of positive leadership.
A colleague and I were recently discussing trends in leadership since 2001. Our mutual concern was described in this question: “Is the 21st century marking the beginning of the end of nice guy leadership?” It seems that many of today’s influential people are letting go of basic principles such as respect, listening to others, and looking for alternatives that might reduce a conflict or minimize the pain of a necessary decision. The economic situation gripping the world was, in many ways, created by so-called leaders who simply looked away from the needs of their constituents and focused on themselves. I sincerely hope this is not what new leaders will aspire to emulate.
Positive leadership is about setting an example, treating people fairly, and allowing new leaders to grow through mentoring. It allows them to experience growth through challenge, encouragement, and an occasional failure. Although we don’t encourage people to go and fail, positive leaders provide the guidance and wisdom about taking chances and not to fear failure.
Consider your leadership style and think about what you can do to create a more positive environment for your team or your organization. Leadership is not a popularity contest and I am not suggesting that you become everyone’s pal. Leaders inspire people, they grow new leaders, and they look toward the future. The leadership journey is far easier to travel when you have followers who respect you, support you, and offer assistance when you need it. Become a positive leader. I guarantee it will be a big plus for you!
(Check out my new book “Positive Leadership In Project Management” to be published by IIL publishing, November 2012. It was developed with the project leader in mind and is basically a practical guide to leadership effectiveness. I’m sure you will find it to be a great resource for your personal leadership development program)