In the 20th century, we moved from a manufacturing to an information economy. The world continues to evolve and information is readily available. For companies, the difference between competitiveness and decline will come from the emergence of new leaders who can dissect the information, inspire others, and understand the importance of relationship building.
I, myself, have focused much of my time to helping others tap into their unique skills and abilities in order to work towards their potential. You can also read my post on “5 Steps to Developing the Leader Within.” I believe that everyone wants to feel they are contributing in some way and a good leader can help ignite the spark. A key to this is involving others in understanding the big picture and getting them to help define their version of the overall goals. I try to be as inclusive as possible when discussing the objectives with my team, especially when it comes to dealing with change.
Leadership should be viewed as two way communication. Leaders can learn just as much from their team as they can from teaching them. The best leaders surround themselves with people who might be better than them and strive to develop others’ talent. Succession planning should also be embraced. In Ram Charan’s Leaders at All Levels[i], Charan showcases companies such as 3M who pride themselves on growing from within. 3M looks for “high potentials” in their staff the management team works to hone the skills of those individuals.
Within an organization, the project manager should essentially think like a consultant. They will be communicating with various stakeholders both within and without the organization and will therefore need to represent many different viewpoints. A project manager should not just be another position answering to management but an integral component in understanding and communicating the overall business directives. A good project manager should not think linearly, and can be a difference maker in shaping the competitiveness advantages for a company.
Because the project manager works to satisfy many different deliverables and communicate with various types of stakeholders, there will undoubtedly be challenges and roadblocks. To be an effective project manager requires the ability to deal with change, address challenges, and lead when times are tough. This is highlighted in the Challenge is an Opportunity for Greatness article[ii], where they state, “When times are stable and secure, no one is severely tested.” It is easy to create an assumption of demonstrated leadership when everything is going right and budgets are being hit. An excellent concept lies in the book Adversity Paradox[iii] where it is described that the best leaders are those who have faced the most significant challenges. The knowledge you gain from overcoming adversity plays a crucial role in your success. With an aging population and a looming succession crisis, what we need are emerging leaders who have demonstrated the ability to fight in the trenches, stay positive and motivate others when everything seems lost, and deliver results in any condition.
[i] Ram Charan, Leaders at All Levels
[ii] James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Challenge is an Opportunity for Greatness
[iii] Barry Griswold and Bob Jennings, The Adversity Paradox