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Top Secrets of a Project Leader to Build a Strong Performing Team


The leadership role is one of the most coveted ones, but also the most challenging one. In the words of Peter Drucker, the father of modern management techniques, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things“. Businesses have evolved over the years and job roles have changed over time, but what remains crucial to success is the presence of an effective leader who has the capability to build a strong team.

Leadership Struggel

While in many cases there are instances of born leaders who have led from a very young age, a large number of leaders are born out of tough situations that push them to perform better than others and thus lead the team. If you have the talent and the desire to excel and be in a  project leadership role, the best way to go about it is to follow your intuitive project leadership skills and have a deep understanding of the fellow members of your team. When handling a particular project, a project leader can hardly move even a step ahead without support from his team. As we delve deeper into what makes a project manager click and become successful, here are a few insights that can help you with the process.

Lead by example

You might have heard this multiple times and eventually learned to ignore it. However, this is one piece of advice that can fetch you many followers in the form of team members who make up a strong-functioning team. As soon as an employee is hired, he or she looks around for a mentor and some inspiration. To be able to create an effective team, it is important to provide positive inspiration that your team members can follow. If you want your team to be in office early, you would have to do the same. If you want a degree of discipline about work deadlines, you would have to submit your work at the earliest opportunity.

It may be tough to always play the role model, but it can also be rewarding in the end when you know you have a strong team that can take on more critical projects in the future. This also ensures that you are training every individual to be a project leader who can carry the mantleon their own once you have moved on to a higher role than project manager.

Be the comrade

Often leading a team or project is equated with being on a higher platform than the rest, and this leads to aloofness from the team and labels a leader as unapproachable. This hinders progress as your team members are not able to confide in you about their problems, be it about their project-related issues or even about their personal lives. Being a friend helps. It helps to know what’s blocking your team members’ progress and stopping them from providing quality work.

Each hire involves a lot of time and money for the organization as well as the team. As a leader, if you are able to be a friend and comrade who can nurture and grow individuals instead of letting them go, it will help in building a strong and tenacious team filled with experience and resilience.

Listen and give recognition

In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”This attitude can be very harmful for the role of a leader. When your team members are trying to articulate something in times of a crisis, they should be able to do it without fear of being ostracized from the team or being labeled as over the top. Sharing ideas or apprehensions about a project, without fear, often provides new insight and solutions to existing problems. Contributing to the team and being recognized for it gives a team member a sense of accomplishment. Listening to even the smallest of ideas and promoting experimental processes can excite a team and encourage them to work harder.

Be the pillar

Being a leader calls for being the strong pillar of confidence. Being a straight shooter and asking direct questions can clear up the air and project you as being fair under all conditions. These actions require a lot of confidence and can in turn make you an immediate favorite among your team members. It assures team members that you can take charge of things and will be there to back them up whenever required. The true leader always backs up his or her team even in dire circumstances and always makes them feel safe. Ultimately, this feeling is what helps build loyalty among team members and their team lead.

So, which project leadership skills are you going to inherit? Do you have any other qualities to highlight? Share your thoughts with us.

Posted in: Guest Blogs, Leadership, Project Management

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A Happy, Happy Conference – PMI NL Summit 2014


I have just returned from a fabulous conference:  the PMI Netherlands Summit 2014 in beautiful Zeist, NL.

It was an honor and great pleasure to open the conference with my own keynote on “Leadership, Happiness and Project Success“.  In my presentation I explained why and how leadership and happiness are the key ingredients to project success.

A lot has been said and written about leadership and how it affects project success.  But ‘happiness’?!  Well, not so much.  This is sad I think for ‘happiness’ brings in the human factor into the equation.  It’s ok to satisfy the customer.  But is it sufficient?  I don’t think so.  If you and your team aim for a happy team and a happy customer it can take your project to a higher level.

Scientific research has shown that our brains work better when they are ‘happy’.  And when our brains are at ‘happy’ that positivity will ripple out to others and can raise productivity.  Hence, whenever you aim to promote happiness in your project you can likely improve performance and productivity.  Not bad, isn’t it?!

So, what is ‘happiness’?  How do you define it?  

Well, not so fast.  I am not sure if you can or actually want to come up with a formal definition of ‘happiness’.  It is personal, subjective in nature.  And yet, (most) people will agree that ‘happiness’ is great and worthwhile striving for.  The 3 P’s – pleasure, purpose, passion – give us a hint what ‘happiness’ entails.  In the context of a project I think that the purpose and passion characteristics of happiness a central.  In other words, you and your team have to have a common understanding of the motivation and vision of the project.  They need to know, support and share it.  Not by force but because they want to – on the project, individual and team levels.

Have a look at my presentation to learn more about it.

Happiness is a choice

At the conclusion of my keynote I invited the audience to take action to create a happier life.  For this purpose I handed out GREAT DREAM postcards.  It lists 10 key to happier living based on a review of the latest scientific research relating to happiness.

Everyone’s path to happiness is different, but the research suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being. The first five (GREAT) relate to how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. The second five (DREAM) come more from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

GREAT DREAMS postcard image

I want to thank the Action for Happiness movement for providing these postcards at no charge.

Take the Action for Happiness pledge

Giving a keynote on ‘happiness’ is a great experience. It gave me the chance not only to talk about happiness to a large audience but actually make people happy.  What a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity!

Learning more about happiness and how it can help us grow successful projects is one thing.  Applying the principles in our daily lives is another and more powerful thing.  Hence, I am asking you, the reader, to visit the Action for Happiness website, take the Action for Happiness pledge and start living a happier life.

Action for Happiness Pledge
“I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me”

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness, Keynotes, Leadership, Project success

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Do It With Passion and Succeed


I believe that one of the key factors for happiness at work, and this includes projects, is PASSION. Passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.

Passion in a groupThis meaning by itself is still fluffy if you expect a formal definition of the term.  Alas, I am not sure whether or not it is a) possible or b) desirable to offer a formal definition.  Passion is, just as ‘happiness’, very personal and subjective in its meaning and its implications. Hence, I like to stay it with the attempt of the offered description of passion, i.e., passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.

Careful! Passion is contagious and the gate to being and expressing yourself

And yet as ‘passion’ is subjective as it may be it is not limited in its scope.  Passion can be contagious.  Look at a group of people who are passionate about their activities, may it be music, sports or work.  When you observe them not only can you see the smiles in their face, you can literately feel and sense their passion, their excitement and energy.  These people share something in common, something that moves them, something that excites them.  And they love every minute of it.  What would you do as an observer or bystander?

I can speak for myself: most likely, watching a passionate group of people would make me smile for I like it when I see people who are happy. And I may even admire them for having found their passion and expressing it.   It is cool and it is worthwhile striving for.  It may remind me of my own passion.  Or it may remind me that I yet have to identify my passion in a specific area and express it.  Fact is that expressing your own passion releases energy and it comes back to you multifold in a very positive way.  It is a ‘flow’ state where time seizes to exist and you enter a state of ‘being’.

Achieving a ‘flow’ stateIMG_1958

Achieving a flow state is a wonderful experience.  It is fun, exhilarating, exciting, stress-relieving, enjoyful, dramatic and pure.  It is multi-dimensional in the sense that it can come from your work or project, from your own personal self or from and with your team, or – even better for a project or work setting – from all of these levels, i.e, individual, group and project levels.  This is what happens in WOW projects.  WOW projects are projects that add value, projects that matter, projects that make a difference, projects that leave a legacy.  And those are projects that bring happiness into our daily work life.  Both on the individual and team level.

Passion is a key ingredient to this WOW experience.  So, go out, find your passion and do it with passion.

Learn more

Learn more about how to find your passion and use it in your projects at work.  For example, have a look at my seminar “Finding the Spirit of WOW Projects“.

I will be giving a keynote address on ‘Leadership, Happiness and Project Success’ at this year’s PMI Netherlands Summit on Thursday 12 June 2014.

Posted in: Happiness, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events, WOW projects

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Select for success – with happiness


In April I will be a speaker at this year’s Project Zone Congress in Frankfurt, Germany.  Listen to what I shared in an interview with Stamford Global.  The whole interview is available at http://projectzonecongress.com/news-articles/select-success-interview-thomas-juli

http://www.stamfordglobal.com/userfiles/PZC2014/Badges/stamford_badges_05-02.pngSelect for success – interview with Thomas Juli

Submitted by Helina.Pukk on Fri, 2014-01-24 15:59

Thomas Juli is an experienced professional on leadership in project and program management, consulting and training, as well as in teaching. He previously worked for SAP, Sapient and Cambridge, but has now committed to helping others improve their leadership skills through which to experience more project success. He is a welcomed quest at conferences and his book has gained lots of followers. We recently talked to Thomas about what is needed for project success and what happiness has got to do with it.

Excerpts:

Thomas Juli: First of all, whenever I say this title people say ‘Well what do you mean by happiness and how does this fit in?’ and I explain ‘You know, there is an equation for project success and that is: LEADERSHIP + HAPPINESS = PROJECT SUCCESS’. And people look at me asking What do you mean? –Because happiness can be a result of project success’ and I say ‘No. It’s the other way around.’ For example, people say ‘I want to be promoted to the head of PMO and then I will be happy’, and then they achieve this stage. Are they happier? No, because life continues. Happiness is not linked with a career move or to anything. But if you’re happy internally and the team is happy, you can really create a lot of things because team synergy is “Team Magic”, what I call it.

Listen to the podcast here or download the whitepaper of the complete interview.

http://www.project-roadmap.com/project-portal/attachments/download/971

 

Posted in: Empowerment, Happiness, Institute, Leadership, WOW projects

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Search for Happiness as a Prerequisite for Project and Business Success


Happiness is a key ingredient for project and business success. Happiness, of course, is very subjective.  On the other side there are three elements that are recurring when asking people about their understanding of happiness.  These three elements are:

(1) pleasure

(2) purpose

(3) passion

While pleasure seems obvious to most people, purpose and passion go deeper.  They imply that in order to find happiness you have to know what your driver – your purpose – is.  Seems simple?  Yes, it is, or it ought to be.  Unfortunately, a lot of people fall prone to their own hectic lifestyle and calendars, pressure from society and business.  As a consequence they move further and further away from knowing their purpose.  They are becoming hamster running in a wheel, spinning faster and faster.  No wonder it is more likely that you get a response to the question “What makes you unhappy?” rather than the question “What makes you happy?”

Interestingly when you ask a child the question “what makes you happy?” you are more likely to receive a response.  How come?! I believe it is because children have less fallen victims to external pressure (even though they too can have quite a weekly schedule with sports clubs, music lessons, etc.).  They live in the moment, can – or shall we say, are allowed to – be passionate about their activities.

[Image credit: premasagar]

[Image credit: premasagar]

Hence, today, let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves what deep inside motivates us, what we are passionate about.  Let’s listen within and find the spark of happiness which makes our lives so much easier and at the same time moves us closer to happiness and success.

Posted in: Happiness

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Open Forum Davos 2014: Changing the world, one panel discussion at a time


This year I have had the privilege to join a group of alumni of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and attend the Open Forum Davos .  We attended the following panel discussions:

TJ at WEF Open Forum2014 Kopie

Have a look at these video streams of the panel discussions below.  Luckily, in every panel discussion I had the chance to ask the panelists a question.  I cite the slot in the video where you can watch me asking the questions.

For a list of all WEF related posts, please select the News Category ‘WEF’ in the right navigation bar or click here.

Higher Education – Investment or Waste?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Yet today, the US has a trillion dollar student loan bubble and the graduate unemployment rate has reached 14%. With over 285,000 university graduates working at minimum wage in the US, many students are faced with buyer’s remorse. Is it time to reconsider whether a college degree is worth the investment?

Speakers: Angel Gurría, Sean C. Rush, Daphne Koller, Gianpiero Petriglieri, Zach Sims, David Callaway Themes: Education, Jobs, Open Forum

My question for Angel Gurria, Secretary General, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD):

Youth unemployment is a very big issue in Europe.  On the other side, the OECD publishes the PISA report.  Interestingly, countries ranking very high in this report, don’t have the lower youth unemployment rate as the report might suggest.  Hence, isn’t it time to revisit and qualify the priorities and check and update the underlying assumptions of this report?

Listen to his answer at 1:05:00 in the video stream.

Read a previous post including an analysis of this panel discussion.

Immigration – Welcome or Not?

For over 200 million people, migrating to a foreign land represents the hope of a better life and valuable career experience. While viewed by some as an opportunity for development and a healthy source of skills on the job market, many people are concerned with irregular flows of migrants, the cost of integration and potential increase in criminal activity. With European migration on the rise, should governments improve their integration policies or impose barriers to entry?

Speakers: Kofi Annan, Peter D. Sutherland, Martin Schulz, William Lacy Swing, Wolfgang Lutz, Amy Rosen, Khalid Koser

My question for Kofi Annan, Chairman, Kofi Annan Foundation, Switzerland; United Nations Secretary General (1997-2006):

What projects do you have in mind that could help prevent a “brain drain” in African countries? 
What projects in Western Europe do you suggest that could help us become more sensible for “brain drain” in developing countries?

Listen to his answer at 0:41:03 in the video stream.

Ethical Capitalism – Worth a Try?

Capitalism lifted 1 billion people out of poverty in 20 years but, today, society is discontent. Some believe the neo-liberal capitalist model needs shaking up, and that regulators, supervisors and corporate governance managers have failed those they are meant to protect. Western economic and social crises are pointing to the bankruptcy of the capitalist model. Yet the question remains: What is the alternative?

Speakers: Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Martin Sorrell, Muhammad Yunus, Jasmine Whitbread, Stanley M. Bergman, Ignazio Visco, Zanny Minton Beddoes

My question for Martin Sorrell, CEO WPP, United Kingdom:

The government of Bhutan is using a Gross National Happiness Index.  How, do you think, can a “Happiness Index” change the discussion on ethical capitalism?”

Listen to his answer at 1:14:00 in the video stream.

Faith and Gender Equality – Mind the Gap

Women represent more than half of the world’s population. Yet, with enduring patriarchal traditions, women still do not have the same rights as men. Issues of reproductive rights and socially mandated roles in the family remain controversial. Considering the important role of faith in social and economic development, can religious bodies help rethink the role of women in society?

Speakers: Beth A. Brooke, Diarmuid Martin, Orzala Ashraf Nemat, Chris Seiple, Karnit Flug, Anne Mcelvoy

My question for Chris Seiple, President, Institute for Global Engagement:

The US is a strong proponent for faith and gender equality worldwide.  On the other side it seems that the US education system is moving backwards as reflected in the debate whether or not evolution or creationism should be taught in high schools. What is your view on it? Is this something we have to be afraid of?

Listen to his answer at 1:11:00 in the video stream.

The Secret Is Out – What’s Next for Switzerland?

Switzerland is known for its chocolate, watches and banking sector. But today, with traditional banking secrecy gone, the country has to reinvent itself to retain its competitive advantage. Can Switzerland use this shift to its advantage by creating new markets while continuing to benefit from its pharmaceutical, energy management and tourism industries?

Speakers: Jean-Claude Biver, Joseph Jimenez, Boris Collardi, Harry Hohmeister, Didier Burkhalter

My question for Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Conferation and Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Mr. Bundespräsident, you are saying that all Swiss citizens are integrated in a project.  The question is:  what are the goals of this project?  What is the joint project vision?

Listen to his answer at 0:59:18 in the video stream.

 

Posted in: WEF

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‘Chairlift to Innovation’ concludes on a happy note


Today was Day 3 of the workshop “Chairlift to Innovation”.  We took easy today and reviewed and refined the results of Day 1 and Day 2.

Bottom line of the workshop:  We’ll do it again!

The concept of the workshop was completely new to us.  Promotion was on a low key (Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and our website).  This was probably one of the reasons for the few participants.  However, for those who did show up it was a blast.  We were amazed by the results and had lots of fun on he slopes and, of course, on the lifts.  Hence, the bottom line was that we will definitely repeat the “Chairlift to Innovation”.  Promotion will be improved for certain.  In addition, we will most likely partner with other organizations or companies to market this event.  Whether or not it will be possible to hold the workshop again this winter, is rather unlikely.  If so, we will post it ahead of time.

Posted in: Leadership, WEF, WOW projects

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Open Forum Davos 2014: Too many problems, too little solutions


Today was Day 2 of the workshop “Chairlift to Innovation”.  The weather and snow were spectacular.  In other words, perfect conditions for an innovative workshop.  So, what did we discuss today and what vision did we build?  Here we go:

IMG_4929The Dilemma:  Too many problems, too little solutions

This year’s panel discussions at the Open Forum Davos were very appealing.  The WEF picked topics that were guaranteed to attract a large audience.  Panelists were well-known celebrities and experts in the field.  Unlike in previous years, audience interaction in the form a question and answer session was possible.  And yet all panels faced a severe dilemma:  panelists shared their ideas and described problems.  Unfortunately, no solutions were being developed or portrayed.  This was and is frustrating and disturbing.  Frustrating because you could expect panelists to at least outline ideas for problems.  Disturbing because it becomes very difficult if not impossible for the WEF to achieve the objectives of the Open Forum, namely “to develop the insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging challenges”.

What are some of the causes for this gap?  For one, it is the way the facilitator is asking questions.  Then, the panelists themselves did not really go out and offer too many solutions or food for thought that could inspire the audience to become active.  Last but not least, audience interaction exists but is limited.

As a consequence chances for “new insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging challenges” were missed.

The Vision:  An interactive workspace nurturing the development of solutions and results in the form of concrete projects

The Open Forum Davos not only addresses pressing global problems.  Panelists spark a discussion for solutions and results.  They offer new solutions, thus inspiring the audience to get involved, too.  Following a Q&A session participants are invited to share their thoughts and ideas in an open workspace.  The WEF facilitates this exchange of ideas.  Either on site or virtually in an online community.  Interested individuals or organizations can meet with like-minded people.  The idea, however, is not to describe problems but to actively help those interested growing their ideas into concrete projects for social change.  Progress of such projects could be tracked on a central online platform.  1-2 months prior to the next Open Forum project results can be displayed.  Projects that made the greatest impact could be awarded by the WEF and presented in a special event at the next Open Forum.

Next Steps:

  • The Institute for Project and Business Transformation (name changed to “Human Business Academy for Today’s Economy” in December 2016)will reach out to the organization team of the Open Forum Davos and share the results of today’s “Chairlift to Innovation” workshop.
  • In addition, we will finetune the vision and derive possible actions to be tested in a smaller environment than the Open Forum to test their viability.

Please let us know if you, too want to get involved in improving the Open Forum Davos 2015 thus developing insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging challenges on the global and local level.

 

Posted in: Centeredness, innovation, WEF

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Day 1 of ‘Chairlift to Innovation’ on Mindful Leadership


Today, 27 January 2014, was the first day of my workshop “Chairlift to Innovation“.  I met with one other individual, who happens to work in the consulting world just like me.

Chairlift to Innovation - PosterWe decided to pick the topic of “Ethical Capitalism” as the overall topic of our workshop.  After the first run and chairlift ride we qualified it to “Mindful Leadership”.  We find that most companies these days limit their scope to the short-term gain and neglect the long run perspective.  While this may work and actually could be quite profitable, it is not the idea we have in mind when we are talking about mindful leadership.  Instead, it is important to take the long-term perspective into account when making short-term decisions.  Long-term aspects include customer and employee satisfaction and happiness, customer retention, business sustainability to name a few examples.

Both of us want to help organizations and companies to understand the value and need to take long-term perspectives into account when making decisions today.  This is not a contradiction.  It complements day to day business.  – For this purpose we will join forces building the Institute for Project and Business Transformation (name changed to “Human Business Academy for Today’s Economy” in December 2016). I will let you know shortly what concretely we have in mind.

Day 2 of Chairlift to Innovation is on Tuesday 28 January 2014

PhotoIf you happen to be in the Davos-Klosters region and want to test the new workshop format and have fun at the same time, let’s meet at the top of the Gotschnabahn in Klosters at 10 AM.  The meeting place is by the exit of the gondola building right before you exit to the slopes.

Skeptical? Just give it a try.  Or have you ever been in a workshop location directly in the mountains?!  Have a look at the picture on the left:  this could be your workshop space.

Last but not least, if you are interested in more impressions of the workshop, check out my Facebook page.

 

 

Posted in: Happiness, Upcoming Events, WEF

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Higher Education – Investment or Waste?


Tonight I attended the Open Forum Davos session “Higher Education – Investment or Waste”.

My opinion?

It was a very good session.  No, it was excellent.  a) because the speakers were very knowledgeable and presented different perspectives  and b) because it was  interactive  with a long q&a session.  The latter I did not expect and was thus pleasantly surprised. (I even had the chance to pose my own question; check the video at 1:05)

Bottom line?

Higher Education – Investment or Waste?  Yes, of course, it depends.  HOWEVER, if you look at the exploding costs of higher education  you can get serious doubts if this can still be a good investment.  Fact is, that higher education doesn’t guarantee you a job afterwards.  And, due to the outrageously high tuition costs in some countries, it becomes increasingly difficult for “normal” parents to send their kids to college.  Hence, while I would not go so far and consider higher education a “waste” I believe that we must not continue to downward spiral of exploding costs.

Possible solutions:

  • online universities / courses
  • subsidized education (ok, but then vocational training ought to be subsidized, too) ensuring universal access to higher education (provided entry criteria are met by student candidates)
  • more cost efficient universities
  • peer teaching, group learning thus cutting down salary costs
  • invest in primary and scondary education without burning our kids (yes, our children still need their free time, believe it or not)
  • invest in alternative education models
  • invest in vocational training; after all, who says that everybody has to go to a university to succeed?!

 

Posted in: Miscellaneous, WEF

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