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Chairlift to Innovation: Building WOW Projects While Having Fun (Jan 27-29, 2014 in Davos-Klosters)


Interested in going beyond debating the hot topics of this year’s World Economic Forum? Why not share your ideas and turn them into concrete projects – and have fun at the same time!?

Then join the free Chairlift to Innovation and learn how to grow your ideas into projects for success. Let’s meet on the slopes and chairlifts of the magnificient resort of Davos-Klosters and share our ideas and turn them into concrete project proposals – and have fun at the same time. After all, what better location could there be where you can integrate good ideas, physical exercise and natural beauty!?

http://www.igluski.com/images/davos_i5245603.jpg?height=240&width=440DATES:

Monday January 27 – Wednesday January 29, 2014

COSTS:

None – except willingness to share ideas and desire to grow them into concrete projects

MEETING LOCATIONS:

  • Monday January 27, 2014, 10 AM, top of Gotschnabahn in Klosters (Parsenn).  PICTURES ARE AVAILABLE ON FACEBOOK
  • Tuesday January 28, 2014 & Wednesday January 29, 2014, 10 AM, top of Gotschnabahn in Klosters (Parsenn)
  • In case of a demand to meet in Davos at the base of the Jakobshorn instead, please call  or send me an email.  My local number is  +41 76 798 53 21; my email is tj@thomasjuli.com.

HOW DOES IT WORK? 

  • 1 day = 1 idea or problem to work on.
  • 1 lift ride = 1 question / lift ride to discuss.
  • 1 day = 1 or more concrete project proposals.

We start our workshop with a brief introduction where I will the explain the steps of growing a WOW project. Now for the practical part: for each chairlift ride we pick one, and only one, simple question, discuss it on the lift, then ski or snowboard, meet at the base of a given lift, pick the next question and move on.  This way we will be able to combine „work“ and fun at the same time.  During lunch break we check our interim results.  By 4 PM we should have a concrete project proposal.
How good of a  skier / snowboarder do you have to be?  Intermediate and better skiing or riding skills are recommended.

HOW TO FIND THE PARTY AT THE MEETING LOCATION?

At the meeting location, I will post the following sign:

Chairlift to Innovation - Poster

How can you find me? – I will be wearing a black jacket and green ski pants.

REGISTRATION

Just show up at the meeting place.  However, in order to facilitate planning it would be great if you could send an email to info@thomasjuli.com and express your interest in joining.

Can you bring friends?

Yes. We will form groups of 3-5 people.

Questions?

Call me or send an email.  My local number is  +41 76 798 53 21; my email is tj@thomasjuli.com.

 

For more information, visit http://motivate2b.com/chairlift-to-innovation/ or http://motivate2b.com/institute/

Posted in: Company News, Happiness, innovation, Upcoming Events, WEF

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Chairlift to Innovation


From January 22 – 25, 2014 the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting takes place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.  The meeting brings together some 2,500 top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment. The 2014 topic is „The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business“.

The question is, what comes out of this meeting?  Media coverage is guaranteed, provocative and not so provocative speeches will be given, experts have panel discussions, participants will be inspired (or not) by old and new problems and ideas alike.  And then what!?  Will it be like in most other conferences where people meet, network, listen to speeches, participate in discussions, just to go home and return to their daily routines?  I reckon that in the majority of cases, this will be the case.  This is frustrating and yet, not too surprising.

An idea is worthless if you don’t embrace it and follow through

Fact is that most conferences and seminars share the same fate.  While the quality of such events can be outstanding, the actual outcomes and returns of them are miniscule and often negligible.  What a waste of time, money and energy you are tempted to think.  And it is true, it often is a waste – safe for the networking, good food, nice location and maybe even fun.  The actual return on investment (ROI) remains low. – This doesn’t have to be this way!

How can ideas spark innovation?

I am lucky and honored that this time I will be in Davos.  Not to attend the WEF Annual Meeting.  I neither have the money nor the influence to get invited to this prestigious event.  But I will be in Daovs-Klosters nevertheless.  I will conduct a workshop for fellows of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation with the title “Finding the Spirit of WOW Projects: Turning ideas into projects for cuccess and have fun at the same time”.

What we will do is to pick some problems and ideas shared during the panel discussion “Ethical Capitalism: Worth a Try?” at the Open Forum Davos and grow them into concrete project proposals.  I will show the workshop participants how to apply a simple yet very effective technique to get down to the real issues at hand and develop a foundation for WOW projects to evolve.  Time allowing we will present our findings and proposals at a debriefing event of the Open Forum Davos.

 

 

And it doesn’t stop there:  The hope is that participants will follow through with their project proposals and implement them.  Where and how, will be decided in onsite.

Invitation to fun and innovation: On a chairlift and the slopes of Davos-Klosters

http://www.igluski.com/images/davos_i5245603.jpg?height=240&width=440http://www.skisolutions.com/uploads/image/photo/3456/resort_carousel_Davos_skiing.JPGI want to continue this discussion.  For this purpose the Institute for Project and Business Transformation and I would like to invite individuals who are interested in learning more about the technique of turning ideas into WOW projects.  However, I don’t want to meet in a conference room.   Instead, let’s meet in the resort, i.e., on chairlifts and the slopes of Davos-Klosters.  What better location could there be where you can integrate good ideas, physical exercise and natural beauty. Planned dates are January 26-29, 2014.

Please contact me directly if you are interested and want to join this select group.

 

Posted in: WEF, WOW projects

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Top tips for project mangers who want to step up and become great leaders


Susanne Madsen, author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook: 6 steps to unleashing your potential, has recently asked me what my top tips are for project mangers who want to step up and become authentic and impactful leaders who add real value, build great teams and get results.  She would like to include my input in her new book “7 Keys To Help You Transform From Project Manager To Project Leader”.  Here is my response:

Develop the MVP’s of project success

MVPThe big question project leaders need to ask is what they really want to achieve; on behalf of the project and on behalf of the team. This is not just about project deliverables, but about project success as a process. It is about considering the overall picture with all its constituent parts. Project leaders understand the purpose/motivation, vision and objectives of the project.  And they know that the heart and soul of every project is the team. They ensure that the team has a common understanding of the MVP – Motivation, Vision and Project Objectives – as it gives the team a strong common denominator.

  • Motivation addresses the purpose of the project.
  • Vision describes the ideal state after the identified problem has been resolved.  It gives the project a direction.
  • Project Objectives clarify and qualify the vision and describe the stepping stones toward that vision.

Ask ‘What makes you happy?’

In my own experience, most project teams may know the project objectives. But they often lack the understanding of the overall meaning of them, how they were developed and, more importantly, why.  But, it should not stop there. As a project leader, what you should do next is ask your individual team members about their personal MVPs. That is, what motivates them to be on the project? What do they envision for themselves personally and what are their personal objectives and aspirations? Give your individual team members time for reflection, and then ask each person to share their MVPs. This requires openness and trust; two ingredients of great leadership. As a leader reach out to your team and create an environment where it feels right to share this.

If you find it difficult to answer the MVP questions, ask: what makes you happy and why? How do you want to feel on this project? How do you want to be treated? And how do you want to treat others in their pursuit of personal happiness on the project? “[After all,] the only way to do great work is to love what you do, and to do what you love” (Scharmer, C. O., & Kaufer, K. (2013). Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies (p. 287). San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers).

Spark Team Magic

The personal MVPs complement the MVP of the project. And yet, it shouldn’t stop there. The third dimension is the MVP of your team and community. Hence, ask your team what your MVP as a team should be. How does it fit in with the MVP of the project and how do you accommodate the individual MVPs within it? I have found these MVP exercises the most valuable investment in a project.

Leaders understand these three dimensions. They know that successful projects are not just about projects, but about people and a group of people forming a team or even a community.

The overlap of these three levels of MVPs can spark a WOW project where there is common understanding of the motivation and direction of the project as well as the drivers, visions and objectives of each individual and the team as a whole. This is a very, very strong foundation for project success.

 

New Upcoming Book by Susanne Madsen:
“7 Keys To Help You Transform From Project Manager To Project Leader”

This is the preliminary title of Susanne Madsen’s new book which has been commissioned by Kogan Page.  The goal of the book is to transform project managers into project leaders. The book aims to do so by shifting the project manager’s predominant managerial, reactive and task oriented mindset into one of empowerment, accountability, risk-taking and proactiveness – and to show them how to better focus on and lead people

Posted in: Book Recommendations, Empowerment, Happiness, Leadership, WOW projects

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3 Steps from Zombie Projects to WOW Projects


Wikepedia defines Zombies as fictional undead creatures regularly encountered in horror and fantasy themed works. They are typically depicted as mindless, reanimated corpses with a hunger for human flesh, and particularly for human brains in some depictions.

A project is a project is a project?

Who am II wish it were this easy.  The good news is that more and more companies and organizations realize the value of project – and to a lesser extent the need and value of good project management.

I have seen, worked on and led many projects.  The ones most memorable were those projects where things were flowing.  That is, the team worked as a team, performance was outstanding due to synergy effects, quality of deliverables exceeded clients’ expectations and everyone was just happy and proud to be part of the project.  I call such projects WOW projects.  And it this kind of projects I love to work on, build or lead.

Zombie projects may still get the basics of project management right

My strong desire for WOW projects may explain my frustration every time I work on or for “suboptimal” projects that have more or less nothing to do with WOW.  It is not that these projects lack project management fundamentals.  Indeed, often they do cover the basics.  That is:

(1) project objectives were defined (mostly top-down by management),

(2) functional and non-functional requirements were described and documented (more or less),

(3) a project organization was put in place,

(4) a project plan was posted on the walls, and

(5) project management tools available.

So far for the basics.

And yet, there was nothing which resembled the WOW factor even at the lowest level.

What’s wrong!?

Zombie projects lack the soul and spirit of WOW projects

While these projects covered the basics of project management they lacked the “soul” or “spirit” that makes WOW projects tick.  Team morale on such projects is often in the lower ranks.  The quality of deliverables is satisfactory at best.  Long working hours are the norm and this is reflected in errors and delays in deliverables.  Transparency about progress, actual issues and potential risks is mirky and not welcome – because, after all, management wants to hear good news.

Working on such projects can be tiring and energy draining.  It is a job, ok. But no more.

Does this sound familiar?  If so, continue reading.

3 steps to WOW projects

The causes for suboptimal projects are not limited to the lack of leadership or a true team.  It is more than that.  It is an attitude and a principle approach how you build, grow and nurture projects.  So, let’s have a look at what it takes to build the foundation for WOW projects to evolve:

3 steps to wow - picture 1Step 1: Listening and learning

The first step to growing a WOW project is active and intense listening, learning about the needs, motivation and vision of people and the organizations.  It helps sorting out the playing field of the project and how it fits into the larger system of an organization and its people.

Step 2: Developing awareness

Based on the insights of step 1 gather your project team and stakeholders and find out what you truly try to achieve in your project.  This means, find out and agree on the MVP’s of your project, i.e., the motivation, the vision and the project objectives of your project.  Expand this exercise to the MVP’s of individual team members and the team as an organizational unit.

Once you have developed strong MVP’s, work on engagement rules for nurturing collaboration, promoting performance, cultivating learning and ensuring results.

Step 3: Performing and aligning

Now, walk your talk.  Start working, practice, fail and learn from your mistakes.  Make necessary alignments and perform.

WOW projects evolve and are very much alive

3 steps to wow - picture 2Steps 1 -3 may imply that they are sequential.  This is right and wrong.  When you start a project you go through this sequence.  However, aligning always includes listening and learning which is Step 1 of growing a WOW project.  This takes you back to the beginning of the 3-step process.  Insights from each step are integrated in each of the other steps and vice versa.

From this perspective it is more practical to depict the process as a Venn diagram which each circle standing for one of the three steps.  The intersection of these three circles is where the WOW ignites and spreads.

3 steps to wow - picture 3In other words, the combination of listening & learning, developing awareness, performing & aligning spark WOW projects.

As you iterate each of the three steps, border lines blur, it becomes increasingly difficult to depict one step from the other.  One element feeds the others and vice versa.  The iterative learning and growth process of this project become intertwined and infinite.  This is illustrated in the picture on the left.

 

Start growing your WOW project today

Even the longest journey starts with the first step.  On this token, I encourage you and your team to have a closer look at your own project(s).  Follow the three steps described above and start building your own WOW project today.

Need help?  Please contact me.  I help you build WOW projects through customized workshops and trainings.  Workshops can be as short as 2 hours or several days depending on your needs.  Or, if you like, I can accompany your journey over a period of several weeks through coaching and consulting.

Posted in: Centeredness, Project Management, Project success, WOW projects

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How much do you want to invest in your WOW project?


http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs39/i/2008/323/7/1/High_Hopes_II_by_OrchidFeehan.jpgIt was a long wait.  Weeks, no, months.  Then, finally she won the long sought opportunity to work on a mega project.  A project that not only was long in duration but also involved lots of people and stakeholders.  What a challenge!  And what a feat!  So she thought.

She had worked on quite a few projects of virtually all sizes.  The big ones stood out.  For a number of reasons: the duration, the complexity, the team size, the fun and the rewards.  No wonder she was excited when she won the new deal.

This was several weeks ago.  Today, the world looked different.  Motivation  dropped significantly; the energy barrels were emptied, stress levels were constantly high. But why?! What happened? And why was this project different from the previous big projects?

The missing WOW factor

While there can be lots of possible answers, the main reason is that this new project lacked the WOW factor. Yes, it was a big project but without the wow.  “Wow Projects’?  Those are projects Tom Peters described as 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.

Ingredients for a Wow project

A wow project is not created merely by its size or its complexity.  Instead, there a few ingredients for a project to evolve into a wow project.  Let’s have a look at these ingredients:

  1. There is a common MVP, i.e., motivation, vision and project objectives.  Team members and stakeholders alike have a common understanding of the MVP of the project and they support it.
  2. Collaboration is being nurtured.  For this to happen there are clear roles and accountabilities as well as collaboration rules that nourish true team work.
  3. Performance is being promoted.  This means that the environment and the people empower people to perform and show their best.  Performance and interim results are celebrated.
  4. As much as performance is promoted and appreciated, people know that mistakes and setbacks are inevitable.  Indeed, making mistakes are welcome and encouraged as they can provide outstanding learning experiences.  Not for learning by itself but toward a common goal, which brings us to the fifth factor, i.e.,
  5. ensuring results.  However beautiful the strategy may be, occasionally you have to look at results.  And they are delivered and celebrated on an ongoing basis and not just at the end of a project phase.

Necessary investments for a wow project

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0e-_U3Jy2oY/TWDW5sWjFoI/AAAAAAAAACE/pF5iJKIm4AU/s828/Stop%2BPause.pngKnowing the ingredients for a wow project is one thing.  But a wow project still does not fall from heaven.  You have to help build it.  You have to invest into this building exercise.  And there are no guarantees.

You usually have at least two choices when you start or enter a project:

a) run, react and get busy.  Do what’s necessary and what’s being told. Try to meet deadlines and keep you head down.  Believe in the expertise of the others and hope for the best.

b) pause, reflect why you started the project in the first place, why you want to work on it. In other words, make sure that you and your team understand and live the factors for the evolution of a wow project.  This takes time and effort.  It cannot be done in between meetings, divided into smaller chunks spreaded over a period of weeks.

http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/391/455/391455020_640.jpgIs it hard? It can be. But it always starts with a first step

Coming back to the individual described in the first paragraph of this post.  She realized that this project lacked the ingredients for a wow project.  And this was the beginning to a better project.  She was unhappy but didn’t want to accept it.  Hence, she stood up, gathered like minded team mates around her, talked about her frustration, shared her motivation and vision. Together they changed the situation.  At first, it was only their little sub teams.  From there it spreaded for people noticed that not only their performance and results improved significanlty, team members were also happy, thrilled, excited and highly motivated – without spending endless hours in unproductive meetings, trying to beat deadlines.  They were ahead of the game. And they still are.

What are you waiting for?!  Start building your own wow moment. Today

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness, Project failure, Project success

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Your Path to Happy Leadership and Project Success


WebinarankündigungToday, 18 September 2013, I will be giving a free webinar for the PMI Information Systems Community of Practice entitled “Leadership, Happiness and Project Success”.   Follow this LINK to learn more about dial-in information

2 Ingredients for project success

In this webinar I am exploring two crucial ingredients for project success: empowering leadership and happiness.  I explains why and how leadership can help build successful projects by actively accounting for happiness on the individual, group, project and organizational levels.  Attendees will learn how to find a clear focus of what they really want to achieve, create a strategy through principle centered leadership, resolve project issues and align their priorities for happiness and project success.

Target Audience:  YOU

The presentation targets anyone who is sincerely interested in finding new and transforming ways to project success.  These can be individuals, project managers, project team members, line managers, line organizations, companies or social groups.

Free Registration

Registration is free for active PMI members.  If you are not a PMI member and still want to view the presentation, have a look at my handout on Slideshare. Or, if you like to receive a pdf version of the presentation, please contact me directly.

What’s next?

Institute FolieIn my webinar I am talking about my personal vision of helping build an Institute for Project and Business Transformation.  This cannot be done by oneself.  Instead, it takes the effort of like-minded people and a strong, performing team.  On this token I want to invite you to join this great effort.  Stay tuned for updates on this new and exciting project.

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Company News, Empowerment, Happiness, Leadership, Project Management, Project success, Training

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What I have learned about leadership as a ski-instructor


It is the heat of the summer and I am thinking of skiing?! Well, yes, why not.  I am thinking of skiing lots of time, regardless of the season.  Why?  Because it is one of my dearest passions.  Hence, there is no such thing as season-based thinking.  But there is another reason why I bring up skiing. It is through my many years as a ski-instructor that I have learned a LOT about leadership.  Let me share with you why, how and what elements I find critical in and for effective leadership:

Passion

I have been a passionate skier and snowboarder for as long as I can remember.  Sharing this passion in the form of teaching skiing and snowboarding is rewarding and fund.  My clients as well as other skiers can see and feel my passion which is contagious and thus can help them to improve their skiing.

P1090337Fun

Well, do I have to add anything.  Of course, I love skiing and teaching because it is FUN.

Empowering people

Sharing my experience and expertise with others gives me the tickles.  I cannot micromanage my clients, do a move for them.  I can show them, encourage them and help them build their own skills set through a progression of exercises.  But they have to do it.

Listening

A good instructor is a good listener.  And not only verbal listening.  You have to be able to read the body and emotional language of your clients.

Motivation – Vision – Goals

Good ski instructors can quickly find out what motivates their clients to come to a ski “lesson”, what their vision is and what their goals are.  They may not always be feasible.  But that’s not the point.  Understanding what drives your clients is a foundation for a joyful day and building a good learning environment.

Roadmap, planning

Yes, as a ski instructor you do plan your lesson.  The longer you have taught the more experience you have, the bigger the bag of tricks you bring a long.  At the same you know that it is futile to plan every single detail of your lesson.  It is not about the lesson plan a ski instructor may have, it is about the client.  And they are on vacation and may change their plans of the day.  If in this case you stick to your plan, you lose your client.  Hence, a plan is a good orientation if you stay flexible.  This brings me to the next point …

Let it happen

Learning how to ski cannot be accomplished in a class room.  You have to go outside and do it.  For the ski instructor this means you have to give your clients the chance to practice, practice, practice and ski, ski, ski.  Don’t try to control your clients. Let it happen and go with the flow.

Playing

Teaching is fun and rewarding. But it is not limited to instructing.  Playing, i.e., skiing, is and always has to be a central part of your successful lesson.

Frustration

I would have to lie if I claim that every single ski lesson is a bliss.  This is not the case.  There are days when things just don’t go as planned, everything is off track.  Frustration looms and it is just a bad day.  This is important, too, for you appreciate the normal and better days even more.

Corporate identity

I have worked at many ski resorts for quite a few companies.  Teaching skiing is always fun, no doubt.  And yet, it makes a big difference if you can also identify yourself with the mission of the company you work for.  At Vail Ski Resorts one of the corporate mottos is “Making vacation dreams come true”.  During the onboarding workshops prior to my first (of nine) seasons at Vail we were explained that it is expected from us to live by this motto.  Well, this wasn’t difficult at all.  “Making vacation dreams come true” means that as a ski instructor you go the extra mile to make a ski lesson a memorable experience to your cllient.  And whenever they have fun and enjoy themselves, you do, too.  Things flow freely.  Big smiles.

Sharpen your saw / continuous improvement

Being a fully certified ski does not mean that I have stopped training.  The opposite is the case.  Formally, every ski instructor has to attend 2-3 days of training every other year.  Personally, I am always looking for good training opportunities.  These can be formal trainings or skiing with peers and asking them for feedback.  If you want to stay on the cutting edge you have to do something about it.  This means that you always have to sharpen your saw.

Precaution and preparation

Skiing is an outdoor activity.  Weather in the mountains can change within minutes.  There may be a blue sky in the morning and a severe snow storm in the afternoon.  Good ski instructors take necessary precaution for themselves and their client.

Enjoying the environment

When was the last time you explained to a client “Welcome to my office!” and the client looked at you with awe and said “I wish I could spend some more time here.”  My office when I teach skiing = the mountains and the great outdoors.  They are not “my” office.  I may use the space.  And I am grateful for it.

Identity

Sometimes I wonder what it is that I love so much about skiing and teaching skiing.  Good question.  I believe it that the fact that teaching skiing gives me the opportunity to integrate passion and thus happiness with my work.  It is all one at one point.

Posted in: Empowerment, Happiness, Leadership, Miscellaneous

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Passion = More than just an ingredient to leadership and happiness


In an article entitled “The Secret to Living a Passionate Life” in the book Pearls of Wisdom explain that you don’t have to be a celebrity to live a happy, joyful, fullfilling and successful life.  Everyone can. The key is that you have to know what you are passionate about. “When your life is connected to those passions, it feels meaningful, and when your life has meaning, it is fulfilling.”

passion in a groupKnow your passions and live them

Sounds simple?  It is.  You have to and actually you do want to know your passions.  If you don’t know them or try to conceal them, it is about time that reveal and follow them. This is especially important if you are interested in developing and practicing leadership.  You have to know what drives you.  Not just on the outer world, but deep inside you.

What are my passions?

For one, empowering people and organizations through leadership.  Believe me, this is not just a phrase.  It is a mantra, a philosophy and attitude.  Empowerment is powerful for those you empower and for yourself and the energy you receive from those you empower.

So, what are your passions?

 

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness, Leadership

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How to Gain the Leadership Experience Employers Want


[Guest blog by Michael Keathley]

According to The Job Outlook for the College Class of 2013 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), nearly all of the top ten bachelor degrees for hiring in the current job market involve leadership ability. These include some of the most popular degrees offered online, such as business administration and marketing management (November 2012). Furthermore, even if you are an e-learner who does not intend to pursue a direct supervisory role, “leadership” is an often cited soft skill on most prospective employers’ lists of wants for their employees.

Clearly, leadership is a new trend in hiring, and graduates about to enter the workforce must be prepared to develop and demonstrate that they have this talent. But what is meant by “leadership skills,” and how do students, especially e-learners, attain and document that they have such abilities? To help guide you, here is an explanation of what employers are looking for and ways you can show them you have leadership skills.

leadership definedLeadership Defined

Most experts agree that leadership can be a bit difficult to define. Therefore, David Mielach of Business News Daily went right to the source, the leaders of business and industry, to discover, “10 Ways to Define Leadership” (27 December 2012). The answer that stands out most of all is the definition offered by business consultant, Kendra Coleman:

Leadership is an act — a decision to take a stand, or step, in order to encourage, inspire or motivate others to move with you. What’s more, the most effective leaders do not rely on their title, or positional power, to lead. Rather, their ability to use their own personal power combined with their use of strategic influence are what make them effective” (qtd. in Mielach. 27 December 2012).

Most see leadership as the ability to take proactive, preventative, results-producing action. This has no connection to a job title or position. Rather, the group of experts Mielach interviewed sees leadership as an inner strength that inspires outward results, a sense of vision that envelops others and guides a team to further success.

There are a few additional traits that are often mentioned.

Additional characteristicsAdditional Characteristics

Some additional attributes of leadership should also be kept in mind. Good leaders are:

• Flexible with people and situations: According to author and expert trainer, Ken Blanchard, leadership involves the understanding of when to direct, coach, support, and/or delegate to co-workers as a supervisor or team member based on the context.

• Entrepreneurial/Intrapreneurial: They have the creativity and dynamism to operate outside the box to problem solve and get things done whether you are owning and operating your own business (entrepreneur) or working within an organization (intrapreneur ).

• Communicative: They possess the ability to get a message across to others and to guide the exchange of ideas verbally or electronically.

Note that some of these attributes are broken down separately on lists of skills employers look for in employees.

Ways to Gain LeadershipWays to Gain Leadership Skills

There are quite a few ways that students, online or on-ground, can gain leadership experience. You may even be doing some of these already.

Stand out favorably in class and obtain letters of recommendation from professors, collect relevant feedback (e.g., on assignments from faculty and other students), and save copies of your best work.

• Lead group projects and document what you did and why; be careful to do this in accordance with the characteristics described above rather than in a pushy way.

• Take specific courses related to leadership, and if possible, take some independent study classes that would allow you to work with a professor on a topic specifically related to leadership development in your field.

• Obtain certifications related to leadership by checking what is offered by your school (e.g., See these offerings by Villanova University ) or respected external, career/employer specific programs (e.g., See the U.S. Office of Personnel Management ).

• Participate in organizations, such as Keith Hawkins’s Real Inspiration, Inc. which provides opportunities to train and get involved in leadership from middle school through college.

• Seek out positions of leadership in student organizations at your school. Most will list these on their websites as Aurora University does, or consider starting your own group. Some groups, such as The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) have special leadership development programs and chapters at online universities (e.g., Kaplan University).

• Consider entry-level jobs, internships/externships, and volunteer positions in which you may develop and increasingly demonstrate leadership skills. Your department and/or school should be able to assist you with finding a suitable position.

How to document leadershipHow to Document Leadership for Employers

Now that you understand what leadership is and have some ways to gain skills in this area, it’s also time to think about how you will demonstrate this to employers. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

• Most application processes still rely on the traditional cover letter and resume with transcripts, though often this is presented via an online application site. Follow a functional resume format that will highlight what you can do, and be sure to add a specific (sub)heading for “Leadership Skills.”

• Online applications will often allow you to attach transcripts, additional documents, and/or electronic links. Take full advantage of these options to add scanned copies of certifications, screen shots of your work, letters of recommendation, sample projects—anything you have done or are currently involved with that shows you are a leader.

• Software options exist that will also help you demonstrate your leadership skills to potential employers. Consider using Live Binders, Zotero, or screen capture software to assemble a professional overview of your work; then share a link with prospective employers on your resume or in your cover letter.

• Social media is a powerful tool, and hiring managers are increasingly consulting the digital footprint of job candidates. Carefully brand yourself as an up and coming leader in your field within social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Share links to these sites with prospective employers within your application.

Pursuing, documenting, and demonstrating that you have leadership skills can take time; however, the knowledge that employers are increasingly looking for talent in this area, especially in some of the top career fields, should motivate you to take action. You also do not need to accomplish all of the above steps at once. Rather, try to focus on one or two ways each semester and gradually build an impressive portfolio for employers and online presence that brands you clearly as a leader.

If you have any additional tips or suggestions, please share them in the dialog box below or via Twitter.

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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Posted in: Guest Blogs, Leadership

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Leadership doesn’t need tools but principles


Developing my new workshop “Leadership, Happiness and Project Success” I came across the question whether or not there can be tools for developing leadership.  After all, the second part of the preliminary workshop agenda read “Create a strategy with the best tools possible”.  It is a legitimate question and I think easy to answer:  If you ask me if leadership requires tools my response is “No! Leadership requires principles.”  Principles give you guidance and an orientation.  Tools are superficial, they are means to reach a goal but no more.

Remember the saying “A fool with a tool is still a fool”?  Well, this applies to those who are interested in leadership, too.  No, just by applying good and effective tools you do not develop leadership.  Leadership goes deeper, it comes from within, i.e., you have to know where you are coming from, what drives you and where you want to go.

In a project setting I have found the following leadership principles most helpful:

1Build Vision

Sharing a common vision and goals with your team and organization and having the same understanding how to achieve it are key factors for project success.

2Nurture Collaboration

A performing team yields synergy effects; the impossible becomes possible. This is why team building is crucial.

3Promote Performance

Both on the individual and team level. Inspire and ignite team magic.

4Cultivate Learning

Effective leaders are open for receiving and giving feedback. It requires courage to explore new avenues and to make mistakes and to learn from them.

5Ensure Results

Delivering results is both a prerequisite and an outcome of effective leadership.

 

These five principles are not limited to the role of the project manager or project leader. Indeed, you can apply the five principles of effective leadership in any role you fill on a project, whether as the official project sponsor, project manager, team member, external consultant, project auditor, or any other project role.

Practice leadership in your role, and thus contribute to project success

It may be difficult at times. But it is possible. Every journey, regardless of how long it may be, starts with the first step. Take this step and move forward.

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

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