When it comes to scaling and growing your business, the projects you undertake and the team you put in place to get the work done will determine whether the outcome is a winner or a loser.
As a certified project manager turned business coach and mentor to female entrepreneurs, my experience has convinced me that working to keep a team of people moving in the same direction on a project can be a bit daunting, but never insurmountable when you follow core leadership principles.
Let’s face it, people want to do their own thing, in their own time and in their own way. Heck, it’s because of this type of autonomy and freedom that you became an entrepreneur, right?
I’m sure you’ve learned, however, that while autonomy and freedom are good in thought, it doesn’t really work if you are serious about building an entrepreneurial empire that’s going to last and make a profit.
So, just like you know the importance of having systems, strategies, and structures in place to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine, you also need to have fundamental principles in place to help get your projects done with a bit more grace and ease.
Well, how do you make this possible when you title says “Female Entrepreneur” and not “Project Manager”?
OK, here’s the deal…
People I know who are great project managers don’t have successful project outcomes because of their title. People who are great project managers have successful project outcomes because they are great leaders.
During my management consulting days working with major Global Fortune 500 companies, I discovered that to get projects launched and executed on time and within budget meant you had to know how to work well with people. You had to lead, guide and influence them to do the things you needed them to do by the time that it was due.
When this occurred, the project moved along successfully. When it didn’t happen, you can imagine how many butts got fried. Toasty, but so not cool.
People who are great project managers are great leaders.
People who are great project managers are great leaders.
The saving grace on my projects was following the five core leadership principles described below.
These principles were not iron fist methods to berate my team. They simply provided a framework and served as guideposts to help me and my team stay on course to get the job done.
Principle 1: People Own What They Help Create
Everyone wants to be part of something great and I truly believe that everyone wants to make a contribution in a meaningful way. When team members are allowed to work together to create a project plan and monitor and control the outcome of the project, they take on an ownership mentality, and not only for their own piece of work but for the project as a whole.
They actually get engaged. And this is what you want – team members who are engaged in their work. When you have team members who are engaged and have an “I own this” mentality, they will keep you informed of what’s going on with the project and often go the extra mile when necessary.
The cool thing about sharing this ownership responsibility is that it takes the pressure off you as the project leader and share it with your team.
Principle 2: Team Members that Understand the Project Are Committed to Its Success
When people on a team understand the project – why it’s being done, what they are supposed to do, how what they do affects others, and how their work fits into the big picture – they are much more effective as individuals and as a collective team.
Getting your team on the same page by building understanding is best achieved through team participation in the project management process.
As the leader, don’t harbor the illusion of control by taking on the role of being the sole decision maker or planner for the project. This typically doesn’t produce the best results. Inevitably, when a plan is created in a vacuum by the project leader the flaws become noticeable. Instead, allow your team to participate fully in the process. The added benefit of this is that you get to see your team in action, how they see the project from their perspective, and you get instant team building.
Principle 3: People Are Inspired By What’s In It For Them
To make a project meaningful to your team, you need to connect the project to the strategic goals of your business. You team members need to know that you fully support the project and that the results of the project are important to the overall organization.
Assuming you have an important project, you can create meaning by involving people in the planning of the project. Let them help define the deliverables, organize the project tasks, conduct the risk assessment, etc. As people understand more about the project, they begin to see what’s in it for them and it becomes more meaningful to them. This also helps them to grow and develop professionally as they learn new skills.
Principle 4: Find the Good and Share Your Appreciation for Everyone’s Contributions
People are more motivated to perform when they feel valued and appreciated. When teams are valued, they perform better. When individuals are shown appreciation, they grow and desire to do more. Take time at each team meeting to recognize accomplishments and thank people for their contributions. Periodically solicit feedback on how to improve the project process. In addition, when significant accomplishments are achieved, take the time to celebrate the wins – both small and big.
Also, keep in mind that not everyone on a team will feel valued in the same way. So get to know your people and understand what makes them feel valued and appreciated. Just knowing and honoring this will go a long way. It is important for your team to feel you’re on their side and if they take a risk or make a mistake that you’ll support them – make sure you do your best to so.
Think of it this way… You as the leader are like the Hoover Dam holding back the waters of outside distractions, hindrances, and obstacles, providing your team with a calm and safe environment for them to work. So, if you want a motivated, inspired and engaged team, maintain that dam!
Principle 5: Build and Maintain an Environment of Mutual Trust and Respect With the Team
Trust takes time to build and it takes discipline and consistency to maintain.
Here are my Top 10 Tips for building trust with your team:
- Be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Honor diversity of thinking, learning and other individual differences.
- Value each person’s input and ideas.
- Don’t make promises you can’t and won’t keep.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
- Handle conflicts immediately and don’t take sides.
- Maintain people’s confidences.
- Use good people management skills.
- Eliminate blame and finger pointing.
- Don’t play favorites, it creates envy and jealousy.
Although trust is built slowly, it can be destroyed in an instant, and when it has been destroyed, rebuilding trust takes a very long time. Therefore, take the time to develop and maintain trust between you and the team, and between members of the team.
If you do something that zaps trust in you, admit your mistake openly, don’t hide out. Then quickly make amends and ask for forgiveness. This process restores your integrity and will help you to rebuild your trust account. If you’re open and honest with your team, people will give you leeway to make a few (female entrepreneurs are human!) If you pretend you’re perfect all the time, they won’t allow you a single error.
So take action and start applying these five leadership principles and let them become the new black in your business.
Which of these principles would make a difference in your business? Got a comment? Leave it below for ♥ME♥
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