No matter how many books and theories about project management are out there, to most of us being a great leader is still a mystery. You need to be tough, yet sensitive, strict, yet forgiving, everything, yet nothing at the same time. Being a great leader is truly an art and requires years to be developed. However if you are just starting out or simply want to refresh your memory, here are a few things you should always remember.
What Not To Do
As with anything in life, it is important to know not only what you should do, but also and often more importantly what not to do. This will help you avoid common mistakes made out of lack of experience or simply no better knowledge.
- Give feedback immediately
When we become leaders, we get an uncontrollable need to control everything. This is completely normal, as we want to make sure everything is running smoothly and according to plan. So when we see something that is even a little further from the truth, we make a remark. In truth however, researchers found that almost half of those remarks are not necessary and actually just demotivate our employees. So just stop for a minute and think before you speak.
- Verbally empower
When you want to give your employees empowerment, do not simply say that they have a power to make decisions or take creative risks. It will not make your team feel safe in trying out their limits and won’t truly feel like they have power. So do not just assume that if you say someone is empowered, they will be.
- Become friends
You may be tempted to become friends with one or more people on your team. They might have similar interests, point of view and just be nice and easy to talk to. However, when you decide to befriend one of your team members, you are not only damaging your image amongst the team, but also losing credibility over your decision making process.
- Distance yourself
When the project is not going well it becomes very tempting to dissociate yourself from the team and start playing for yourself, only focusing on the personal goals you have to deliver. However, this will not only alienate the team you will likely have to work with in the future, but also make the results suffer even further. So no matter how tough things get or how easy it might seem to just disregard their feelings, do not separate yourself from the rest of the team.
What To Do
- Give power to employees
Ensure that your team feels like they have power to influence and make the decisions. Start with the small stuff and gradually build trust and their ability along the way. This will not only boost their self-confidence, but also make your job easier when you have a team that is self-sufficient.
- Do not second guess
When your team is presenting a new idea or proposal it is easy to get defensive and criticize. However, you should resist the urge, as it will make the person in question proceed with great caution the next time they have to come up with something new. And that is the exact opposite of what you need within your team. So make sure to only second guess when it is absolutely necessary.
- Give the team discretion and autonomy
Create trust and responsibility within the team, by giving them autonomy over resources and tasks. This will make them treat tasks more carefully as well as give confirmation of your trust towards them.
- Implement a shared mindset – shared goals, beliefs and truths.
Once your team is a unit not only by the title, but also in a way they think, it will boost their performance and allow them to truly flourish. Having a common mindset will allow the team to stop silly disagreements and arguing over little things that usually waste a large portion of the time and brings the quality of the end result down.