In People Skills, Project Management, Team Effectiveness

A recent report from Deloitte has found that “the quality of senior leadership — including core capabilities as well as personal qualities such as honesty and integrity — has a direct, and measurable, impact on analysts’ assessments of whether companies have been successful and will be successful in the future.” I’m interested in the balance between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ that this statement implies…… What do we really need to do to demonstrate good leadership? Is it following the right strategy and the right processes? Or is it something much less tangible to do with our overall demeanour and how we influence and communicate with those around us?

Deloitte identified the gap between the value of a company with good leadership and that of a company with weaker leadership could be more than 35.5%, so good leadership is massively important.

Project Leadership is made more difficult by the temporary nature of the project management hierarchy. The structure of seniority is possibly just for the life of the project, so the relationships involved are not yet established and need to be worked on, often from scratch.

Herding people through a process just isn’t going to be enough in this situation. You may get from beginning to the end in this way, but the results are unlikely to be optimal. The immense power of collaboration will be lost, the quality and benefits generated by the project will suffer, and it will be very much harder to deal with the conflicts and obstacles that will occur along the way.

The truth is that effective leadership needs ‘soft skills’ and process skills in equal measure. You need to know what you need to be doing; but how you do it can make the difference between ultimate success or failure. In today’s fast moving and complex environment, there will be problems, risks, and also opportunities, that are not evident at the start. The agility to respond to these by harnessing the skills of the whole team is critical. This can only be achieved in an environment where strong relationships allow views to be freely expressed without fear of reprisal, creating a genuine culture of collaboration. True leaders use their personal qualities to pull their team together and share their passion and belief in the project’s goals, so that everyone can contribute their best. The vision of where you are heading, and how you get there, comes not just from a process, but from the leader’s ability to influence with honesty and integrity.

Seth Godin, the American entrepreneur, commented “Leadership on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in.”

It’s sharing that belief that makes the difference.

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