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Manage   »   Project Management   »   Leadership

Leadership is about choosing the right approach at the right time.

It is about taking opportunities and motivating humans to deliver on certain objectives and it is about a whole lot more besides.

There are many books about leadership, probably more than there are about project management, and many explanations about the number of leadership principles there are.

You will see seven (always a popular number for memorable lists), ten, fourteen, sixteen and we guess a whole lot more.

It is not important how many principles the books feel there are. What is important is the ethos of leadership, the style of leadership you choose to use and the vital philosophical difference between leading teams by guiding people rather than leading people by just being a leader of a team.

There is always a trade off and delicate balancing act to be performed between being autocratic and democratic enough, without being too bureaucratic.

Whatever style you choose we must remember that we are largely concerned with the successful delivery of a project where the project team members work with the leadership and experience their movements and management style, daily.

They will see you as the leader, the advocate for change and a supporter of all your project colleagues. They will see your management style reflect the change of ethos as you dictate and direct less and you show and support more.

This is a management style that focuses on the day to day, on the immediate, on the individual, on delegated authority, on priorities, on fit for purpose outcomes and on collaboration. It allows team members to symbiotically provide to, and feed from, the rest of the project. Although not all ventures suit this leadership style, agile projects are ideal.

The project to effectively dominate say a political party across an entire country demands a distinct leadership style. This challenge demands a thorough command and control structure to engender the feeling of profound organisation and stability as well as universal trust and integrity. This is especially important because the rank and file are unlikely to ever actually meet their leader. This approach demands you are more dictatorial, commanding and dominant: not warming qualities for the more successful collaborative project environments. The approach we favour in the Toolkit and suggest you adopt is less dictator; more director. As you dictate less and direct more, the responsibility to coach as well as lead becomes an important project task.

The agile leadership style, often popularly entitled in agile circles as Servant Leadership, has the following leadership skills. These are important skills to adopt and leadership styles to promote. We note that they have the useful acronym A FULL CRISP:
  1. Awareness and Anticipation,
  2. Formulate and Facilitate Conceptual Ideas,
  3. Understanding and Realistic Empathy,
  4. Loyalty to People,
  5. Listening and Interpretation Skills,
  6. Capability to Build Project Communities,
  7. Revitalizing Approach,
  8. Influence and Gritty Conviction,
  9. Steward, Supervisor and Manager,
  10. Perception and Attentiveness
  11. .
Catalyst Leadership
This is where managers and leaders focus on the needs of their colleagues and those they manage. They lead in a subservient manner. We do not use this title and prefer Catalyst Leadership. Under Catalyst Leadership you, as the leader, act as the catalyst to remove obstacles and as a motivator to improve productivity and success. As the leader you are a listener, committed to your people, have foresight and are both aware and persuasive. But importantly you are not sat around waiting for instructions from the team. You are out and about meeting them and checking progress with them, unlocking barriers and helping to ensure quality outcomes are delivered every minute of the project.

So, while we mention unlocking barriers, let us look at the responsibility for problem solving.


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