Promotion to leadership position used to depend on rising up the company hierarchy. Now, vital work is increasingly carried out by temporary teams working on specific projects, which provide ideal opportunities for learning leadership skills.
Joining Project Teams
Widen your knowledge and learn new skills by joining a project team. These are usually set up to work on new projects within an existing organization. Such teams can become permanent if the project takes off, and are independent of the vertical hierarchy. The longer the project lasts, the more likely it is that the team membership and roles will change during the project’s life. These means you can join the project in a subordinate position, but with the hope of finding leadership role later. The larger the team, and the wider its remit, the greater the chance to change roles or be promoted within the team. Gaining experience on projects led by other people is also an invaluable education in how to lead your own project.
1. Use projects as a way of learning more about other disciplines.
= subordinate is promoted to lead own team =
= subordinate gains experience in leadership skills working as part of a team =
Learning Skills on Project Team
Working on a project team can provide you with all the necessary experience to run your own team. Show your initiative and make the most of any opportunities that arise.
The leadership of a project is often passed to different people at different stages. For example, it could move from the design department to the production staff to the marketing people, each passing in the baton in turn. This gives you the opportunity to learn crucial lesson in how to organize and collaborate with different functions and departments, from finance to sales, engineering to purchasing. Although the baton changes hands, everyone still works as part of a harmonious team at all times. The abilities to be flexible and to understand how other departments work are essential in leadership.
2. Make friends with people in different departments, and get to know how they operate.
Use your experience in multi-disciplinary project team to broaden your general business skills. It is too easy to become and stay a specialist. The Japanese, for instance, believe that every manager should be a proper businessman or woman, able to lead any part of the business successfully. So a personnel head can move easily into sales, or a finance expert into marketing. Get to understand the principles of business and what part each component skill plays in achieving sales and profits. Broaden your knowledge by reading, and by establishing and nurturing contacts in different departments such effort will pay great dividends in future.
Skills to be Learned on a Project Team
How to approach the project
How to communicate its objectives
Where to acquire resources
How to put resources to best use
How to liaise with other departments
How to negotiate
How to monitor performance
How to troubleshoot
How to achieve project goal
Leadership is a multi-dimensional function, requiring knowledge and understanding of many organizational needs. As a leader, you must master the various roles that are required to handle different people and circumstances with skill and efficiency.
3. Think carefully about the best way to behave in every situation.
4. Concentrate on getting things done, not on trying to show that you are the one in charge.
Taking the Overview
A leader’s role differs materially from that of a manager. While a manager must focus on implementing specific tasks, the leader must act as a grandmaster, a strategist, directing the game as a whole, and organizing the players. All leaders have different talents, and may be stronger in some skills than in others. To be successful you must be able to fill a number of roles, using a range of skills and leadership styles according to the task, the situation, and the people involved.
Being an Administrator
Administration is a key role of the leader, and nowadays there is much more to the role than simply “running a tight ship” on a predetermined course. The modern administrator is expected to be creative, devising processes and streamlining activities, not only to ensure the smooth-running of procedures, but also increase efficiency. To get the best from your team, set aside time to organize systems that will minimize time-wasting and improve productivity. Look for ways to reduce paperwork-direct communication is usually more effective. Liaise with other departments to ensure that everyone knows what is expected to them, and keep an open team diary for instant checks on current tasks and deadlines.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Q Do I communicate directly with my team and also with other departments?
Q Am I sure that every member of the team understands his or her role fully?
Q Am I setting sufficiently ambitious goals?
Q Do I have procedures in place that allow me to check on team progress instantly?
Q Am I constantly looking for new ways to improve efficiency and productivity?
Comparing Leaders and Managers
Leaders Managers Managers
Inspire Trust Control
Thinking long term Think short term
Ask what and why Ask how and when
Watch the horizon Watch bottom line
Challenge status quo Accept status quo
Are their own people Are good soldiers
Do the right thing Do things right
Becoming a Strategist
As a leader you need to focus on the wider issues that may affect your team’s effectiveness, as well as the day-to-day business of getting things done. With your team, plan what you want to achieve in a given time, and break this down into attainable goals and objectives, ensuring that everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Unexpected problems may require adjustments to elements to elements of the plan, so always leave plenty of room for revision.
Promoter of Change
5. Keep a checklist of key leadership duties and ensure that you do them.
6. Always look beyond the details and consider the bigger picture.
FULFILLING KEY ROLES
A leader must be a good communicator who cares for staff; an expert who is knowledgeable in his or her field; a strategist who looks to the future; an administrator who gets things done; and a proponent of change.
Change is vital for success in the future. By seeking to lead change, you are helping your organization to remain competitive and grow, and creating opportunities for individuals to enrich their careers and personal lives. Dare to be different-if everyone in your industry is suck in the same pattern, search for changes that will be welcome by costumers and that will enable you to stand out. Encourage staff to generate ideas for change, and involve your team in the planning and implementation of change programmed.
7. If you are resisting change, ask yourself why.
To ensure minimum description communicate every aspect of a change to those concerned as soon as possible. Stress the positive aspects of the change, and gain commitments from other through your own dedication of the project.
Communicate Reassure Stand firm
Leaders suggest a training course to help team members improve skills.
Focusing on People
The effective management of others is paramount to success. As leader you must be, and be seen to be, a people person who has the best interests of staff, as well as the organization, at heart. Seek to develop a climate of openness in which people are not afraid to express their opinions and share their ideas with you. Constantly encourage them to adopt the values and behaviors that help the team and the organization to reach its goals. Above all, ensure that your people get the training they need to achieve their maximum potential.
BEING AN EXPERT
As leader, you should possess an in-depth knowledge of your chosen field. Ensure that your staffs have all the technical skills needed to enable them to perform effectively.
HOW TO FULFIL THEM
Has in-depth understanding of his/her field.
· Strive for the best positive performance, and increase your knowledge in your specific field.
· Use your expertise to improve technical performance and technological strength in key areas.
Ensure the smooth running of operations.
· Cut down on paperwork, and devise progressive system to increase efficiency.
· Set rules, systems, boundaries, and values in order to ensure effective control.
Makes staff and their training a top priority.
· Believe and act on the principles that success flows from the effective management of others.
· Seek to develop a climate of openness, and work with, and for, everybody equally.
Thinks long term and looks to the future.
· Always ensure that you plan ahead, devising strategies and goals for future success.
· Concentrate systematically on where the organization needs to go and how it will get there.
Use change as a key to progress and advancement.
· Be adventurous, and endeavor to focus on enterprise and initiative rather than control.
· Seek to lead change, and actively encourage the generation of new ideas in others.
Using Different Styles
There are many different leadership styles, and to be truly effective in any given situation, you should not only be aware of them all, but be able to use elements of each simultaneously. For example, while managing and developing people, you still need to keep your eye on the strategic future at all times. If you are implementing a major change programmed, do not neglect your administrative duties or you run the risk of being unable to implement the changes effectively.
8. The greater your expertise, the more authority you will have.