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Monday, September 14, 2009

Smart People, Leading Smarter People

"Despite the enormous pool of talented people that have characterized almost two decades of globalization, most of these individuals and their ideas continue to be ensnared in organizational cages left over from periods of capital and labor-intensity, designed for command and control, rather than liberation and excellence. The results: great people achieving mediocre results. What an extraordinary waste!"

These are the words of IMD Professor Bill Fischer, Director of the Driving Strategic Innovation program. In his Tomorrow's Challenge "Smart People, Leading Smarter People", Professor Fischer describes six leadership practices adopted by great teams that were defined by big, ambitious, personally-risky goals and a relentless search for the absolute best talent.


Projects as Opportunities to Practice Leadership

If you are managing a project, you have a great opportunity to consciously practice leadership. Project Management is a great leadership opportunity because every project:

•has a vision and goals that realise that vision (VISION)

•is a great opportunity to make a big difference in client’s business (VALUE)

•involves working with people and swinging them in meaningful action (ACTION)

•involves alignment of people with the project vision (ALIGNMENT)

•allows you to serve your customers (SERVICE)

•enables you to help your people grow and make them better with each passing project (GROWTH).

So how do you combine effective management practices and leadership fundamentals to get the best out of your team? How do your raise your team above mediocrity?

Here are 10 basic leadership acts for every project manager and project leader:

•Being a leader means being under scanner. Your actions are being carefully watched. Be self-aware and authentic to set right examples.

•Get people who are better than you on your team. Celebrate diversity and create a well-rounded team.

•Learn fast and aim for self-mastery. Excellence in your own work sets a bar for your team.

•Practice humility. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.”

•Learn to say “I don’t know” when appropriate. If you bluff about anything, your people are smart enough to judge that.

•Seek early wins in the project. It not only increases team’s confidence but also clients’ comfort.

•Avoid group think. Try to play “devils advocate” to encourage contrarian thinking.

•Emphasize on shared responsibility. Project success cannot happen unless everyone plays their part well. Communicate this as often as you can.

•Manage change effectively because change, as we know, is the only constant!

•Treat people well when they make mistakes. Mistakes are always a learning opportunity, unless a mistake is repeated.

Remember that you always get more from your people by building a “fire within them” than you do by building a “fire under them.”