The ability to motivate and guide members in the organizational environment is the key to successful leadership; and leadership is beyond directing a functional team or project team members with operating procedures, project templates, charts, and performance statistics. Project Management Institute (2017, p. 60) indicated in the PMBOK Guide that the common denominator in all organizations and projects is people, as humans are countable; however, we are not merely numbers. As a leader’s role involves dealing with people, he/she need to be an astute motivator to study team members’ motivations, drive individuals’ behavior, and guide their performance, and consequently direct the team to reach greater heights. In order to perform that, the leader needs to keep striving to improve leadership competencies. There are various competencies of becoming a good leader; this short post narrates succinctly on visionary to inspire team members and influence stakeholders, interpersonal skills to foster harmony, analytical skills and critical thinking, and strong mental and emotional resilience.
- Being a visionary: Understand the team’s situation, members’ difficulties, and requirements to improve members’ performance. Envision the end goal and build new or improve current vision with the project and organizational members, taking note of project deliverables and functional activities are dependent on each other. Map out new or improved visions with gradual steps and directions to attain individual milestones and achieve the end goal; and ultimately, reach new organizational heights. Translate and describe the team goals to team members, relate with members and inspire them to envisage the new proposed outcomes; consequently leading members to attain individual objectives and team goals. To be convincing and effective visionaries, leaders need to articulate clearly with inspiring and synergizing effects, which eventually will exude a strong influence on stakeholders in the internal and external environments.
- Possessing interpersonal skills: When there is interpersonal communication during an interaction, we will have face-to-face conversations with a personal touch in a two-way traffic with both verbal and non-verbal communication. One-to-one coaching and mentoring on individuals’ attributes and skills in a two-way channel, as well as a richer form of team interaction that encompasses exchanging information in a multiple-way feedback channel, are essential to assess emotional cues. Consequently, leaders can fully understand team members’ underlying concerns. Hence, able to build trust, seek consensus or compromise, balance competing or opposing goals; and eventually address concerns effectively. For instance, Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary football manager of Manchester United, had a keen eye on the observation ability that served him well throughout his managerial years. Elberse (2018, p. 14-15) wrote that Ferguson’s strong interpersonal skills provided him with the observation ability to monitor players’ performances, evaluate players analytically, spot concerns not expected to see, and thus able to build balanced and successful squads.
- Acquiring analytical skills and critical thinking: Having a focused mind with deep concentration will aid in analyzing critically on different kinds of situations in functional operations as well as project duties. Diagnose individuals’ weaknesses and peel back to underlying factors and root causes, and able to relate to members, enabling them to fully understand their weaknesses and how to overcome them. Evaluate the effectiveness of ways of team improvement and executing the initiatives efficiently. The same goes for strengths – analyzing the underlying factors and root causes of one’s strengths and how they can complement others’ strengths and weaknesses. This subsequently brings out the optimal performance in individuals and team and builds resilience, which discusses in the next point.
- Building resilience: Feelings are experiences and thoughts of current body status and surrounding situations that play out in one’s mind; consequently displaying emotions via behaviors as accordance with feelings. Acknowledge humans’ feelings and behaviors are subject to different changes in one’s personal life such as marriage, moving house, or family issues; and aspects of work life such as individual or team performances, new colleagues, assignments, deployments, and training methods. Hence, the need for awareness of members’ state of mind and resilience to help them to adapt well in the face of adversity and stress to bounce back from the difficult experiences. To achieve that, leaders need to instill the resiliency in themselves first. Mental resilience train cognitive ability to focus on the task on hand (Elberse, 2018: p. 28). Hence, leaders need to improve attention span to strengthen focus ability and mental flexibility in order to examine and incorporate multiple points of view into an objective perspective. Elberse (2018, p. 28) explained that emotional resilience creates an internal climate that drives high performance. Therefore, leaders need to build emotional flexibility to self-regulate and develop a positive outlook to nurture and sustain the team’s optimism. Conversely, it is important to be aware of reality to attain a measured and informed optimism and prevent over-positivity. With own resiliency built firmly, a leader can influence organization members and build an organizational resilient shield to lead the pack and brave the storm.
Elberse, A. (2018): HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership Lessons from Sports, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Project Management Institute (2017): A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute (PMI), Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA.