Project Management

Servant Leadership: Serve to Be Great

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This blog is about leadership as it applies to projects and project management, but also as it applies to society in general. The bloggers here manage projects and lead teams in both business and volunteer environments, and are all graduates of PMI's Leadership Institute Master Class. We hope to bring insight into the challenges we all experience in our projects and in our day-to-day work, providing helpful tidbits to inspire you to take action to improve—whether in your personal life, your business/work life or on your projects. Read, comment and share your experiences as we share ours. Let’s make the pie bigger! Grab a slice!

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Catalin Dogaru
Mike Frenette
Suzan Cho
Jonathan Lee
Tolga Özel
Graham Briggs
Cecilia Boggi

Recent Posts

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The Servant Leadership Way: Virtues that bring Results

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Viewing Posts by Jonathan Lee

Know Thyself, Learn, and Grow through Mistakes and Practices

This is my first blog post in this forum and I am very excited to be part of this community with my fellow classmates from Project Management Institute Leadership Institute Master Class (LIMC) 2015 class. 

I would like to share with everyone in PM community some of my perspectives, thoughts, and experiences in my ongoing leadership journey. 

I believe becoming a better leader begins with you and thus you need to Know Thyself.  What are you doing to develop your leadership skills?  There’s a famous quote from Vince Lombardi that says:

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made.  And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.  And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” - Vince Lombardi

You need to work on yourself to become a better leader.  Learn from past leaders and from their experiences.  What kind of leader do you want to be?  An admired leader, perhaps?  Well, it doesn’t happen overnight.


Know Thyself:

I believe that if you want to become a better leader, you need to, at some point, conduct an assessment of yourself on who you are, how you are viewed by others around you, and where and how you want to walk your leadership journey.  Whether this is done personally or through programs your work/community organization offers, you need to conduct a reality check on yourself to understand your baseline and where you are in leadership journey so that you can continue to lead with strengths while working on areas for improvements to become a better leader.

Have you spent time assessing yourself to find out what you are doing well and what areas you can improve on to become a more effective leader?


Leadership Philosophy:

With that said, I believe building your leadership skills and style with the Servant Leadership philosophy as the base foundation to your leadership style(s) will provide a more meaningful and rewarding experience not only to you as a leader but also to those you lead in your organization. 



I really like the quote from Harold Geneen that says “Leadership cannot really be taught.  It can only be learned.”  What I got out of this quote is that you have to practice it, experience it, and learn from it.  Simply hearing about it from someone or reading about it isn’t enough. 

If you want to know more about being a good leader and developing your leadership skills, there’s a lot of information on the internet as well as books, articles, and seminars for you to read and hear about and gain knowledge on them.  But just because you read and know about them does not make you a better leader.  You have to practice it, learn from your own experiences, fine tune what works best for you, embed it into the fabric of who you are as a person and become that better person/leader.  You can’t pretend to be a good leader.  You have to be genuine about what you say & what you do; otherwise, people will see right through you.


Make Mistakes and Learn from It:

There are many quotes and comments from famous people about making mistakes.  One of my favorite on making mistakes is by Albert Einstein and it says “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”  Fear of making mistakes should NOT prevent us from trying something that we want to do.  Making mistakes, actually, isn’t a bad thing because you learn a lot from them.

Everyone makes mistakes.  The difference between those who benefit from making a mistake and those who do not are:

  • Those who are able to learn from their mistakes and not make them again learn a valuable lesson.

  • Those who cannot see the positive side of “life lesson” will be either discouraged or make the same mistakes over and over again.

As a leader, when we make a mistake, we must first own it, have a positive view of it and learn from it.  This will help us become wiser and build our wisdom.  So we should not be discouraged by the mistakes we make.  Hopefully, you are not making mistakes all the time in every turn you take.  If so, you will need to reassess yourself and consider looking into “Know Thyself” and make necessary adjustments. 



Practice your leadership skills.  To improve on it, you must practice it.  One of the best places that you can hone your leadership skills and also serve the project management community, at the same time, is by joining your local PMI Chapter and serving as a volunteer.  You will have an opportunity not only to meet new people and network, you will also have exposure to opportunities that allow you to lead and practice your leadership skills, in addition to all the fun and rewarding experiences volunteering will bring to you.

The last thing I would like to mention is that a few weeks ago, I went to see a movie “The Martian” starring Matt Damon.  There were many funny and great quotes from the movie; however, the one that was most memorable to me was the message toward the end of the movie when Matt Damon talked about solving problems one after another and not giving up and if you solve enough problems, you get to go home and not die in Mars.

Do your homework to succeed and solve problems.  Don't be discouraged.  Don’t give up even if you fail.  Keep trying.  At least you are not on Mars so you won’t die. :)   Since you are on Earth, you will build wisdom from mistakes you make.  Experiences will empower you and make you a better leader/person.


On my next blog, I am going to talk about building trust and being trustworthy and why I think it is so very important in everything I do as I walk my leadership journey. 

Posted by Jonathan Lee on: November 02, 2015 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

"More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

- Woody Allen



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