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
The 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