One thing above all can make leadership easier: an enthusiastic team. When your team wants to roll its sleeves up, get going, and do their job, then leadership becomes an exercise in pointing your team in the right direction, and providing them with the resources they need, to succeed.
But you will often need to earn this kind of enthusiasm. So, let’s consider some things you can do to bring it about.
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It is easy to believe you have a monopoly on wisdom and foresight when it comes to planning. You don’t. There are three compelling reasons to involve team members in planning:
Far too often, scheduling starts from an assumed 100 percent availability. Not only does this store up a whole series of awkward negotiations for the future, but it is demoralizing for team members to see their other commitments implicitly devalued to zero at the stroke of a pen or cursor. A better approach is to consult them at the start on availability and work from these. That way, people will commit wholly to their scheduled availability and you’ll have a far more enthusiastic team.
Progress is motivating; it is as simple as that. So, make progress visible. Put plenty of milestones in your plan, publish progress reports frequently (or better: give people direct access to real-time progress data), and celebrate successful achievements at any opportunity.
Give people an opportunity to grow and develop when they work on your team. There are two dimensions you can stretch people in:
The chance to learn new things and to strengthen existing skills towards mastery is intrinsically motivating as well as good for careers and therefore for employers. Opportunities to take on more responsibility grow character and judgment. And they also craft an enthusiastic team.
If you are going to stretch someone and delegate good quality, demanding work: do so whole-heartedly. When you give people responsibility, you must trust them fully and let them stand or fall on their own performance. By all means, put in scheduled reports and certainly be available for consultation, but the time to get nervous about the risk is before you decide what to delegate, and to whom. Once you have made your decision, trust is essential if you want to maintain enthusiasm.
Nothing stifles enthusiasm more than the feeling of not knowing what is going on, what is expected of me, and what the future holds. Create effective communication channels and take responsibility not just for communicating well yourself, but also for building a culture of good, collaborative team communication among team members. Done well, this leads to spontaneous collaboration, seamless conflict resolution, and real caring between colleagues. And those are fundamental to your enthusiastic team.
Keep your team motivated by becoming a human environment control mechanism. Like any environmental controller, use feedback to constantly adjust the levels of support and challenge, and to feed in resources when they are needed. And don’t forget to remove unwanted heat and contaminants from your team before they stifle enthusiasm and productivity.
Problems build up and, just like the fizzing bombs in Tom and Jerry, if you don’t tackle them quickly, they will explode in your face. Not only does this hurt you and anyone around you, but it also looks weak to your team, and creates a climate of “what next?” fear. A positive willingness to take on issues rapidly and make confident decisions will create the confidence in your leadership that motivates followers.
People want to follow leaders. So be the leader whom people want to follow. Define your leadership template and build a style that feels right to you and creates the culture you want. What will your leadership watchwords be? And how hard are you prepared to work to make them a day-to-day reality; even on the toughest of days? How much work will you put into building an enthusiastic team?
Your enthusiastic team will work hard for you. What will you give them in return? There is no need for elaborate gifts and bonuses: their role in motivation is exaggerated by the people who have become accustomed to them. Fundamentally, people need to feel endorsed for their efforts. A three-step process works well:
Here is the most important thing, though. Do not save all of your feedback, praise, and opportunities to learn from experience to the end of the work. Build it into the regular cycle of progress checks and support. This way, you can harvest its benefits throughout the life of your team.
Carefully curated video recommendations for you:
I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own.
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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