April 20, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Leadership
Seven Moments That Prompt Leadership Magic With Project Momentum
By Mike Koper
Oh… We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work. Ever hear that before? It may be coming from senior management or from team members on the manufacturing floor. What could have made them so bias towards a new initiative? Was it that they have seen the song and dance once before, or was it given an honest shot and it failed on its own demise? Maybe the strategy was mistimed, lacked leadership buy-in, or not applicable to the current economic condition; either way, the initiative didn’t pass muster. As a front line performer, you need to lead the team in a new direction to improve the current performance. I recently read a newly published book, Touchpoints authored by Douglas Conant, President and CEO of Campbell Soup, and Mette Norgaard, a leadership professional. Both authors agreed that leading teams is a challenge of garnering support and dedication from the team along with the support levels to the team from administration to immediate supervision. Participation is the key, or as Conant puts it, “to raise the level of engagement.”
To be effective, leaders need to understand that directions, visions, and strategies are merely promises; the job of the leader is to translate those promises into real, on-the-ground performance. So, how is that achieved? Norgaard and Conant go on to define a leader as “the person who brings a little magic to the moment.” While “magic” is all good and everything, it’s not a set of skills or behaviors unless the leader has been able to refine some basic abilities and employ a sense of intuition. Leaders can sharpen their magic wand by exercising the habits in the following prompts:
- First – Listen up. A leader sharpens his/her skill level through developing a knack for listening to the whole message; visualizing the whole picture if necessary; and surgically extracting key data, emotion, and root causes from the conversation.
Second – Assist others to frame the issue, or perform this on your own; just work to encompass the issue with some structure. This will bring a sense of urgency to the situation and clear the field of vision to create confidence in the next step. Framing the issue can be performed through summarizing, asking questions like: Would it be right for me to say…? or Did I capture all of your points clearly? In fact, it may be most effective to sketch a picture of the situation and possible solutions.
Third – Advance the issue to the next step, engage in the use of assistance from others, and identify the key stakeholders who are most affected by the problem and the solution. This is the step of necessary buy-in. Today many corporate initiatives lack some the dedicated participation from team members required for them to succeed.
Fourth – Be alert. I use to have a baseball coach who always shouted, “Look alert”; being alert is about being able to sense a situation as it is surfacing. Staying alert allows you to see opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked.
Fifth – Abundance. One very essential skill all leaders must develop and learn to harness is motivational power; essentially act as if energy and resources are initiated with the essence of abundance. Assume you have to lead with limitless resources; when obstacles arise become industrious and find ways to “get the job done now and next time.” Another avenue of abundance is to be enthusiastic of others who demonstrate their skills, show flexibility, and encourage urgency.
Sixth – Be authentic. Being authentic not only means leading, it also means following through with your actions. It’s demonstrated by those leaders that share in the steps of progressing towards a strategic goal. Such repeatable short-term goal display towards the end result tends to be contagious with enthusiasm about the tasks at hand.
Seventh – Be adaptable. Forget being one dimensional; it won’t work in the 21st century. The secret is to develop a broad range of skills so that you can adjust and adapt in the moment. Situations will transpire; it will be your role to evaluate whether you need to be directive, consultative, or inspiring. Ways of honing adaptive skills include using humor, providing clarity, deferring to others as the “experts,” asking precise questions, and offering ideas.
These skills must be part of the arsenal of leaders who command a presence and can inspire others to take up the battle. “What makes the team members give their very best?” Every leader must critically gauge the answer to this question for each team member and work to recognize the contribution of each person’s work.
Similarly, the leader has to have full engagement in the performance of others through the genuine feeling that the interest of others is of the utmost importance by offering solutions as a guiding source. Leaders are required to ask questions―more importantly, continue to ask the right questions such as:
“How can I help?”
“How did it go?”
“What was it that worked?”
“How can we do better next time?”
Such questions aim for the clarity in a situation. Focused questions also expose a destination target for the work being performed. The targets then become standards to work towards and benchmarks to achieve and to exceed the performance expectations.
Have you have experienced specific moments whereby you had to pull from your management skills to attain better team performance or momentum? Would you say your leadership skills demonstrate a methodical approach to attaining project momentum? How?
Mike Koper, CmfgT, CmfgE is a Senior Project Specialist. You can read more from Mike on his blog.
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