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Topics: Ethics and Organizational Culture, Leadership, Talent Management
What innovative leadership techniques have you used to inspire and motivate your project teams?
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My colleague Sripriya and I are presenting this engaging session at the PMI EMEA Congress at Dublin in May: "Mi7: Motivate, Inspire with Seven Proven Steps to Project Success."

We are very interested in hearing from you on any other innovative techniques you've successfully used in your projects. We will select the best, and with your permission, mention in our preentation with due accreditation.

Please add your wisdom to our session.

THESE ARE THE SEVEN STEPS WE ARE PRESENTING:
1. As PM, act as CEO, selling big your big picture vision, and using project logos, motivational tag lines, etc.
2. Analyze and leverage cultural diversity in your project team
3. Catch people doing the right things and be appreciative, rather than constantly finding fault and criticizing
4. Serve as a demonstrably Ethical leader
5. Use the key Leadership skill of Empathy
6. Leverage social media tools to understand individual strengths, motivations, etc.
7. Use visibility to motivate and inspire
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Leadership is in fact an act of Risk Management in the sense of Opportunity Management.
It consists in exploiting all possible positive outcomes within a team, taking action to foster and establish a mindset turned towards Value creation.
Respect, positive reinforcement, consideration and equality are means to maximize performance. Punishment, focusing on what went wrong, etc. are strategies aimed at countering threats which is not only often useless and ineffective but also demotivating and finally counterproductive. Happy staff are productive, unhappy staff are expensive. Peter Drucker said: “Startegy should be aimed at exploiting opportunities not countering risks which are merely limitations to action”.
My 2 cents,

Cheers,

Olivier.
...
1 reply by Karthik Ramamurthy
Mar 31, 2019 2:07 PM
Karthik Ramamurthy
...
Great points, Olivier!
Will you be there at Dublin?
Network:5136



Hi Karthik,

This is one of my favorite subjects and one that I have put a lot of thought into as soft-skills in these areas are (in my opinion) the differentiator between a good PM and a GREAT PM. Here are some principles that I try to practice which I believe are relevant to your question.

#5: Empathy

- Empathy is an essential skill that should be integrated into all areas of project management and practiced not just by leadership but by the entire team. This one soft skill can be viewed as the enabler and/or multiplier for all other skills and should be taken seriously as it can be the difference between success and failure on a project.

- That which you are willing to do in the trenches for your team, establishes a care fund that pays dividends in perpetuity. When you team doesn’t appear to be responding to your directives, check your location as you may be on a hilltop where one’s voice is distant and obscure. Therefore, place yourself in the midst of the team and provide personal value to their objectives and then watch what happens when you speak.

With that said: Empathy is a form of Understanding, Understanding is a form of Knowledge, and this one we all know – Knowledge drives projects. Therefore, empathy is valuable not just to the nature of relationships, but to the nature of projects.

#4: Demonstrable Ethical Leader

- A Leader who publicly professes they are wrong elicits strength from their team as it creates a "challenge-based atmosphere" that mitigates fear and breaks down barriers to success.

- Leadership is unbounded when Trust has been requested and willingly granted. This occurs as trust willingly given generates a binding contract that promotes understanding and action, whereas leadership without trust finds confusion and apathy, rendering one functionally crippled.

Again, I love this subject and congratulate you and Sripriya on this opportunity! If you would like to see more thoughts like these then you can look at my profile under contributions.
...
1 reply by Karthik Ramamurthy
Mar 31, 2019 2:09 PM
Karthik Ramamurthy
...
Great points, George!
Thanks a million for adding value to this discussion.
I hope you will continue contributing your knowledge and expertise for the benefit of our dynamic PM community here!
Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!
Network:830



Great topic. Motivation is one of the challenges in our profession. Since, projects are not easy, requieres resilence and keep the impetu and courage, Besides I see motivation as a customized approach with our team members. , I consider some specific practices valuable in different projects . 1) having the Project business value clear for the team is a key motivation element. I have test how engage is my team when they have clear the benefits they are providing to the country and the globe more than the company or organization. For instance I see how motivated is my team when we created an slogan "We are taking care of all colombian citizens " instead of create a motivation speach for an specific project name. The motivation is high if the OKR (objetive and key result is in my team mind"
2). having a customized approach for recognition and not only recognize the big milestone, but the team effort. recently I received an spa bono because we cancel a project with a nice message from the CIO telling me that not always we defined the right strategy but he knows we have given the best of us. if was really valuable message that motivates to keep in this profession besides the situation. When I told with my team members I have the practice to identify what is the think they value the most. for instance in a small talk I identified a key member that never has travelled in an airplane and in the conversation they were making funny words to coworkers about their differences between vacations. I though "I have the opportunity to change his life with a very small action". THis month I received the opportunity to attend a great seminaryin a different city and I request for budget for this event. I received One bonus to attend and inmediatly assigned this opportunity to my key resource. I can change nothing for his face and happiness. It is only one example that recognition is an individuality. If a team member has children and I gave hin an entrance to family to a cinnema with food included I have seen his happiness, but others have value the most that I provided an entrance for a B game.
3) LEt the team to define the technical issues and empower them to take decisions. team feels proud that they make the project reality and everyone make theri own contributions. I remember a celebration cake that we produced to a project closure and the cake said "You made it reality" when people see the project results and our customers are using our features in the market and I am able to said "I dit it" I can tell my family and my friends I did it the toll payment system or I made this teller machine transation and you are using it. It is a key experience for the team and engage them we the project.
4) Not micromanagement. be a facilitator and make people free to share their difficulties and impediments with you because they want you to help them or to know, but not because you are every day and frequently asking them for progress.
5. Freedom to work conditions. People and specially millenias consider free schedulling and free job place as a value. I try to not worry about that and not make that conditions for the team considering the team maturity. It makes people to give extramile to obtain the resuts.
...
1 reply by Karthik Ramamurthy
Mar 31, 2019 2:09 PM
Karthik Ramamurthy
...
Great points, Dora!
Thanks a million for adding value to this discussion.
I hope you will continue contributing your knowledge and expertise for the benefit of our dynamic PM community here!
Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!
Network:91045



Mar 31, 2019 11:10 AM
Replying to Olivier Lazar
...
Leadership is in fact an act of Risk Management in the sense of Opportunity Management.
It consists in exploiting all possible positive outcomes within a team, taking action to foster and establish a mindset turned towards Value creation.
Respect, positive reinforcement, consideration and equality are means to maximize performance. Punishment, focusing on what went wrong, etc. are strategies aimed at countering threats which is not only often useless and ineffective but also demotivating and finally counterproductive. Happy staff are productive, unhappy staff are expensive. Peter Drucker said: “Startegy should be aimed at exploiting opportunities not countering risks which are merely limitations to action”.
My 2 cents,

Cheers,

Olivier.
Great points, Olivier!
Will you be there at Dublin?
...
1 reply by Olivier Lazar
Mar 31, 2019 4:34 PM
Olivier Lazar
...
I’ll be there. LIM, Congress and SW.
Network:91045



Mar 31, 2019 1:14 PM
Replying to Dora Mejia
...
Great topic. Motivation is one of the challenges in our profession. Since, projects are not easy, requieres resilence and keep the impetu and courage, Besides I see motivation as a customized approach with our team members. , I consider some specific practices valuable in different projects . 1) having the Project business value clear for the team is a key motivation element. I have test how engage is my team when they have clear the benefits they are providing to the country and the globe more than the company or organization. For instance I see how motivated is my team when we created an slogan "We are taking care of all colombian citizens " instead of create a motivation speach for an specific project name. The motivation is high if the OKR (objetive and key result is in my team mind"
2). having a customized approach for recognition and not only recognize the big milestone, but the team effort. recently I received an spa bono because we cancel a project with a nice message from the CIO telling me that not always we defined the right strategy but he knows we have given the best of us. if was really valuable message that motivates to keep in this profession besides the situation. When I told with my team members I have the practice to identify what is the think they value the most. for instance in a small talk I identified a key member that never has travelled in an airplane and in the conversation they were making funny words to coworkers about their differences between vacations. I though "I have the opportunity to change his life with a very small action". THis month I received the opportunity to attend a great seminaryin a different city and I request for budget for this event. I received One bonus to attend and inmediatly assigned this opportunity to my key resource. I can change nothing for his face and happiness. It is only one example that recognition is an individuality. If a team member has children and I gave hin an entrance to family to a cinnema with food included I have seen his happiness, but others have value the most that I provided an entrance for a B game.
3) LEt the team to define the technical issues and empower them to take decisions. team feels proud that they make the project reality and everyone make theri own contributions. I remember a celebration cake that we produced to a project closure and the cake said "You made it reality" when people see the project results and our customers are using our features in the market and I am able to said "I dit it" I can tell my family and my friends I did it the toll payment system or I made this teller machine transation and you are using it. It is a key experience for the team and engage them we the project.
4) Not micromanagement. be a facilitator and make people free to share their difficulties and impediments with you because they want you to help them or to know, but not because you are every day and frequently asking them for progress.
5. Freedom to work conditions. People and specially millenias consider free schedulling and free job place as a value. I try to not worry about that and not make that conditions for the team considering the team maturity. It makes people to give extramile to obtain the resuts.
Great points, Dora!
Thanks a million for adding value to this discussion.
I hope you will continue contributing your knowledge and expertise for the benefit of our dynamic PM community here!
Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!
Network:91045



Mar 31, 2019 11:59 AM
Replying to George Freeman
...
Hi Karthik,

This is one of my favorite subjects and one that I have put a lot of thought into as soft-skills in these areas are (in my opinion) the differentiator between a good PM and a GREAT PM. Here are some principles that I try to practice which I believe are relevant to your question.

#5: Empathy

- Empathy is an essential skill that should be integrated into all areas of project management and practiced not just by leadership but by the entire team. This one soft skill can be viewed as the enabler and/or multiplier for all other skills and should be taken seriously as it can be the difference between success and failure on a project.

- That which you are willing to do in the trenches for your team, establishes a care fund that pays dividends in perpetuity. When you team doesn’t appear to be responding to your directives, check your location as you may be on a hilltop where one’s voice is distant and obscure. Therefore, place yourself in the midst of the team and provide personal value to their objectives and then watch what happens when you speak.

With that said: Empathy is a form of Understanding, Understanding is a form of Knowledge, and this one we all know – Knowledge drives projects. Therefore, empathy is valuable not just to the nature of relationships, but to the nature of projects.

#4: Demonstrable Ethical Leader

- A Leader who publicly professes they are wrong elicits strength from their team as it creates a "challenge-based atmosphere" that mitigates fear and breaks down barriers to success.

- Leadership is unbounded when Trust has been requested and willingly granted. This occurs as trust willingly given generates a binding contract that promotes understanding and action, whereas leadership without trust finds confusion and apathy, rendering one functionally crippled.

Again, I love this subject and congratulate you and Sripriya on this opportunity! If you would like to see more thoughts like these then you can look at my profile under contributions.
Great points, George!
Thanks a million for adding value to this discussion.
I hope you will continue contributing your knowledge and expertise for the benefit of our dynamic PM community here!
Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!
Network:2787



Mar 31, 2019 2:07 PM
Replying to Karthik Ramamurthy
...
Great points, Olivier!
Will you be there at Dublin?
I’ll be there. LIM, Congress and SW.
Network:18



Hi Karthik
Effective communication and clarity on project goals, deliverables and the strategies crafted to deliver such goals are key to motivation and inspiration.
Creating a cohesive unifying business culture, which generates shared values, beliefs and objectives, will raise motivation levels. A unifying cohesive culture normally results from creation of a learning environment, where information is freely shared. It is shared information which creates traction for projects through confidence based motivation.
Half the time, demotivation and frustration result from ambiguity and lack of information. When team members have sufficient information to deliver their tasks and respond to evolving risks, creativity levels and opportunities sporting and exploitation supersedes evolving risks and their mitigation.
Continuos training and development, coaching and mentoring, all create a knowledge base where empowerment can thrive. Empowered team members can self-organise and self-manage, requiring minimal leadership assistance, which is a source of both, great motivation and agility.

Hope this helps

Regards

John
Network:272



Karthik,
I'll share a personal story on the subject of empathy that has deeply influenced my perspective of leadership

I was assigned to lead a project which was already in crisis. I was given license to pick my team, gathered them together, and explained the situation. I knew it involved serious disruptions to people's lives for several weeks as we would be working nights and weekends until we had things fixed.

As I explained the situation to the team, everyone became very quiet. One person spoke up, a veteran of the business and long time leader of their group. He expressed what everyone was already realizing; we were about to begin an awful job, and failure was not an option. Then he said something that influenced me so much it sticks with me to this day...

He told the team that as tough a situation as we were in, I had the most difficult and least enviable job of all. As much as he wouldn't want to be in my position, he was glad that I was the person who had to lead us through this. I was floored. I have never had so many people put so much faith in me to lead them out of a problem.

His expression of empathy there worked in 2 ways. 1) He expressed to the whole team that we were in this together. 2) I saw how much everyone was counting on me, so I was compelled to do everything within my capacity to not let everyone down.
Network:12



Karthik,
I have a few lines elaborating two of your points. Hope they make sense.

1. As PM, act as CEO, selling big your big picture vision, mission, and goals using project logos, motivational tag lines, etc.
According to The Conference Board, Inc. (DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Create and Sustain Highly Engaged Teams}, “A well-defined purpose is one of the five essential components of an engaged team.”
Transformational leaders understand, appreciate, and acknowledge the value of his team members. Transformational leaders empower the team by using many tools such as talent management, performance measurements, rewards, and awards to acknowledge team/member successes. They are empathetic to the member causes. They use clear and prompt communication to find and resolve issues succinctly. They facilitate an environment of trust, and credibility to build relationships thus engaging the followers by actions rather than by mere words.

An engaged-team is an asset for the project, PM, and the organization. An engaged-team shows improved morale, higher satisfaction levels, greater productivity, and better results. However, there is no magic potion to sustain elevated levels of team engagement, as it is a two-way street; it needs the PM to build many bridges to bridge the gaps between team members, and other stakeholders.

5. Use the key Leadership skill of Empathy
Empathetic, respectful, and authentic leadership behaviour builds trust in a team environment. Appropriate words and deeds also provide enough collateral to trust. Trust in turn builds confidence, eliminates suspicion, and establishes credibility. A team devoid of trust, compromises, and become complacent. Team members do not engage in healthy and productive debates on issues related to the common cause. On the other hand, they may simply take each other for granted, create an artificial harmony, and co-exist in a self-centered and passive manner. The team never aggressively pursues the common goal thus productivity and growth suffer.

A transformational leader, an empathetic leader, can harness the power of trust; ignite positivity through reward and appreciation, and mentoring. Good leadership incorporates shared vision, values, and positive expectations to inspire followers to make a change thereby engaging, motivating, and encouraging them to be more productive. It is a solution where everyone benefits. Thus, an empathetic leader must convey, inspire, and transform through his/her actions to build better relationships. Team engagement is complex. It is triggered by many intrinsic factors associated with work, workplace, personalities, employee-employer relations, and leadership styles of the managers. In an ideal scenario, the team member senses a ‘mental connection’ that enables the person to perform as expected.

Best regards,
Sasi
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