5 ways to be a better leader
Here are some tips on getting the most out of your project's team.
Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 10:51 AM
While not everyone can be the boss, more and more employees are asked to take on leadership roles.
"With the increasing need for project managers, we should all want to improve our skills and abilities as our projects become larger and more complex," said Russell Harley, a veteran project manager and project management office director.
To help those tasked with leading projects, Harley offers five tips for getting the most out of your team:
Be a leader: While this should be pretty obvious, it is very easy to get caught up in personalities and the normal socialization of the workplace. This is especially true for long-term projects, or those that require the team to work together for long hours. As a project manager, the important thing to remember is that your only goal is the completion of the project. It is not to be friends with everyone or to have them all like you. Projects can easily get into trouble if things start sliding due to the project manager not wanting to hold people accountable.
Stop multitasking: This may be the hardest task to do effectively. Numerous researchers have shown that multitasking is bad for everyone. Yet people still try and do more than they really are capable of doing. So how do you control this tendency? In a word, delegate. You have a team of subject matter experts plus others on your team. So ask them to help, or assign tasks to them that they should be doing instead of you. Yes, it may seem easier for you to just handle it yourself, but what is the point of having a team if you are doing most of the work?
Run effective meetings: Project managers spend a lot of time leading meetings. To make sure you use the time spent in these meeting efficiently, rely on a key, though underused tool: a team charter. This simple, one-to-two-page document details the protocol of the meetings, which everyone has agreed to. Items in the charter can include everyone agreeing to be on time, no cell phone usage, etc. A tool like this will not only help the existing team, but will also show new people exactly what is expected, rather than leaving them to guess on their own.
Be an agent for change: Process and procedures are great for keeping everything running smoothly, especially on difficult projects. However, the team also needs to make sure these rules are helping the project rather than hurting it. If you or someone else on your team can improve a process, then speak up. Showcase how the change would help the team complete the project faster, cheaper, etc. The proposed change may actually affect multiple projects, not just your own, and could even affect the entire company. However, if the change will only benefit your team or project, be sure to explain that this would just be an exception for one project and not a global change. If you can institute a beneficial change, your team will thank you.
Breathe: Project managers sometimes forget that the projects they are responsible for are not theirs. As a project manager, you normally do not "own" projects; the sponsors do. You are only responsible for managing the project, not owning it. (Though, most of the time, managing the project by itself is a huge task.) So if the project experiences massive changes, including cancelation, it is not you, it is the sponsors. So do not react or stress out as if this is something you or your team did wrong.
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