Here are some ideas about the kind of culture project leaders need to create–the internally generated project team values that can help projects succeed.
#1. Make the decision-making process more transparent. Have a weekly meeting with the project team where all of the issues of the project are discussed. Have an open staff meeting once a month where stakeholders worldwide can listen in and share information.
The idea is to share with the project management team as much information as you can, reducing the level of secrecy within the project team and thereby reducing the degree to which secrecy could breed politics.
On project teams it works like this: “What I know and you don’t know makes me more powerful than you.” Project politics comes from secrecy. The project leader, who has all the information, has the power to change that. It’s the project leader who can tell all the team members everything, and by so doing, take the secrecy away–and take away the politics.
#2. It all comes down to trust. “The trust you give is the trust you get.” Yes, I can admit that sometimes you will be stabbed in the back or shot down. The value gained of trusting first is greater than the cost of being betrayed sometimes.
#3. At the root of effective project leadership is the ability to create a project team culture that enables the team members to excel. Culture allows to attract the best and the brightest staff and create an project environment where they can use their intelligence and judgment to act autonomously.
So how does a project leader go about cultivating a winning project culture? You need management skills, authenticity, self-awareness and listening skills–really listen to what others have to say. Your values must be expressed every day in the way you make decisions.
#4. Be authentic, real, and genuine. Make authenticity the heart of the project’s culture. You must say what you mean and mean what you say–and believe it. Be real when you build a culture of collaboration based on the belief that all team members have a voice. Be genuine when you embrace curiosity. Spend a lot of time in front of a whiteboard.
#5. Create a hiring system that weeds out people who don’t want to be team players and who don’t treat fellow team members with respect. When you have hired really bright project members, you need to get out of their way and let them knock your socks off. Hire attitude, breed commitment, and reward achievement.
Part of the work of project leadership is sitting quietly and thinking critically about the things talked about in this blog. Becoming an effective, successful, wise project leader is a journey of discovery. Let the discovery begin.