All entries for Monday 06 October 2008

October 06, 2008

Some ideas about leadership

I read our colleague Kang writing about his experience as a leader. When I was writing a comment about it a lot of ideas came to my mind.  I remembered what I have read and have learned in formal trainings about leadership. But what really came to my mind was my formal experience over the years.

I`m not gonna write anything long about it. First because I know two little about it and there are some great texts about it available. But one thing I`ve learned in my life is that even though every leader has an style, that style must be adapted depending on the group and the situation.

I`ll give an example. In the last few years I`ve been working with project management. When you are working in project management you`re responsible to get a job done, but you seldon (or never, really) have any formal power over the members of the team. They`re usually members of other peoples teams and structures and quite often they`re very senior members of the organisation, in much higher levels them ourselves. That is specially true in company in which project is not a core activity (the so called Weak Matrix project management). But you are still responsible for the job to get done, to work out solutions, to assign activities. It`s very hard to follow up, to guarantee that tey`re job is being done (even because sometimes they`re own boss is asking something else to them, and they`re really just too busy..). There are a few tricks you learn along the way that help dealing with this kind of situation. One of them is creating a very clear and strong communication and commitment process including not just the members of the team but also they`re formal superiors. Them, along the project, you keep the communication going so that in case of necessity you can quite easily talk to any member and eventually for they`re superiors  to ask for they`re attention and help. But when you are clear, you communicate frequently, you are working in a project that has the support of the high management you can quite easily be the leader of that project.

However when you have a formal power, when you`re leading a team in the name of a company that`s not the problem you have. However you`re the responsible for keeping the team interested, giving they`re best, motivated. Being a leader in that situation is trying to get the best out of each member of the team, making the cooperation happen. And that can be done in several ways ans styles, but one thing that has always worked for me is being as sincere an honest as possible. Giving feedback frequently and being honest in that feedback, careful but complete when that is not such a good one. Being ready to receive feedback to. Trusting but going along, stimulating the risk and being ready to deal with eventual mistakes.Communication again is fundamental.

There are several ways to be a leader, several styles, and the good leader has got to recognise the correct style for each group and situation.




Comment on Kangs entry

I wrote this comment bellow to the entry our colleague Kang has posted about his experience with leadership . For some reason the blog is no allowing my comment to be posted. I did not want to lose it so I decided to post it here.


Kang,

I`ve seen you had quite an experience today. From my personal (and professional)experience I can say that there are several kinds  of leaders, several kinds of leadership styles, and you will have to find yours. Things are even harder in your (our) situation because  we all here come from different backgrounds, different cultures. So this is quite a challenge. I think you should talk as clear as possible about your expectations, your thoughts to the rest of the team and be ready to receive feedback, to learn. From my point of view neither you or your colleagues are wrong in they`re opinions, is just a matter of situation, of environment.

Cheers !

Francisco


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