What Style Of Leadership Do You Provide?

Lighthouse B&WLeaders come in all shapes and sizes and are more or less effective in particular situations. Some realize early on in their careers that having the same approach, whatever the circumstances, won’t always deliver the outcomes they desire. Others never quite get it and continue with their tried and tested approaches regardless of what’s going on around them. Whether you accept that Situational Leadership exists as a style in its own right or not, leaders have to recognize what’s happening in their businesses and their environments in order to make decisions and deployments that best meet the needs of their business.

Academics and authors can get caught up with labels when it comes to describing how leaders operate which can put people off, scare them even, from taking up positions where they think they’ll be seen as a leader. The reality is that most people have been in such positions in their working and home lives at some points in their lives and have valuable experiences to draw upon. Putting aside the labels and concentrating on what needs to be done seems far more straightforward.

What can be useful for existing and potential leaders to do is to consider their answers to a number of questions. There are no right or wrong answers to these but when looked at as a whole they start to describe our own style of leadership, something that is particular to us. It’s not a label or a theory, it’s how we come across as a leader or maybe how we would want to come across. What we do to make it real is down to each of us to work out for ourselves and to start putting into practice.

By answering the following seven questions we start to build a description of our own style of leadership:

  1. What do you do to explain to others what your business needs to achieve in order for it to be considered a success?
  2. Who do you turn to when things become difficult or uncomfortable and what do you talk to them about?
  3. How do you know that your business is on the right track to achieving what it wants to achieve?
  4. How do those working in your business (and think about suppliers and partners here) get to know about the direction of travel for the business – and how do they get involved in discussions around this?
  5. What do you do when you recognize that individuals and/or teams in your business have made an outstanding contribution or gone out of their way to make a difference?
  6. How do you know what your customers and potential customers think about you and what your business has to offer? When was the last time you spoke to them directly?
  7. When do you take time to reflect on what’s happening within your business and come up with solutions to make changes or fix problems?

Each of these questions is deliberately designed to make people think, to consider their impact, their role and what they do. They could be business owners or team leaders – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they take the time to answer the questions and consider what they come up with. It could be that they are perfectly happy with what they come up with. That’s absolutely fine, it’s their own style.

It may be that when they think about their answers a little they decide they want to make some changes, do some things differently. That’s fine too, they want to modify their style to become something that, in their opinion, is more effective and they are more comfortable with.

So, what’s your style of leadership?


How To Resource A Project

A guide on what to consider when planning your project resources.

Chef putting team together

The conventional wisdom on project and programme scheduling has it that if you increase the amount of resource the time taken to completion will reduce. Software scheduling tools will work all this out for you providing they have been set up correctly but what should you as the project leader be considering from the outset? We are of course talking about people here in terms of resource, a somewhat impersonal description it has to be said.

Perhaps the first thing to consider is the type of project itself. By this we mean is it a multi-phase project with each phase having different characteristics – a design phase followed by some form of implementation? Such projects require different skill sets within the project team and significant time and energy spent on providing the lead by the project manager. Is it a project that spans a number of different functions and disciplines? Again, significant effort will be required to ensure a common understanding is maintained across the project team.

So back to increased resources leading to reduced timescales. Where this is straightforward to envisage is in projects or phases of projects that have a clear line of sight to the end.

Let’s consider a construction project to upgrade a section of road. There will be a phase of the project that is involved in working out designs and plans that will be conducted by a relatively small team of specialists. Would increasing the number of experts at this stage speed things up? Probably not – definitely a case of ‘more cooks spoiling the broth’. Once the design work has been completed and we get into the construction phase there are different disciplines at work that’s for sure. What is also different is that it is very clear what’s required to get from the starting point to the successful finish point. Would increasing the project workforce in this construction phase help reduce timescales to completion? Almost certainly yes, notwithstanding any practicalities involved.

This example is perhaps one where increasing resourcing can also mean using separate teams so that shift-work can be carried out to further speed up completion. It would be difficult to conceive of how such an approach might be adopted in the earlier design phase. Just how much extra resource is used needs to be a judgment based on the actual costs involved and that of managed any extra resources (key if multiple shifts are used) and the expected return for completing in an earlier timeframe.

[Tip: Remember that clients may not have the funds to pay early as their budgeting systems may prevent them from doing so. It is essential to maintain a good and open relationship with sponsors and clients when considering such changes.]

There are three aspects to consider when scheduling your resources or changing them in an existing project:

  1. Project Type – R&D or design projects require set skills and disciplines and need time to come up with workable solutions. Adding more architects to the design team for a new building design will only bring in different opinions that will have to managed – all this adds time. A project with a straight line of sight between start and finish such as in construction or coding (after the software design is complete) will benefit from increased resourcing – but keep an eye on the ROI.
  2. Project Team – a project team that is more or less from one discipline could well benefit from an increase in numbers providing they take into account the type of project as mentioned above. Where this gets awkward though is when the team is multi-disciplinary. What project leaders/managers often forget is that by increasing the size of their team they have to put in place sufficient time and effort to ensure the communication between different disciplines is maintained. This in itself may require extra team members.
  3. Project Complexity – A project that consists of different phases requiring different skills and functions and a project team that comprises different disciplines who have to work together is complex. Add to that distributed teams and team members perhaps working in different parts of the world in different languages (and business cultures) and delivering their elements of the project in different counties and you have a truly complex project. If you have some of these elements (and there are many more) you must ensure you have sufficient resource to lead and manage the project team itself. This may seem obvious but what is needed here is the acknowledgement that leading and managing the team is part and parcel of the project and not merely an administrative overhead. Without it, no project gets delivered.

In Summary

No two projects or programmes are the same so when faced with having to schedule resources ensure you don’t just think about what’s been done before. Consider the project type and its complexity together with the skills and disciplines needed in the project team. Once you have done that there’s just the small task of going out and recruiting the right project team members.

You might also be interested in Getting Teams Working

Picture courtesy of HikingArtist.com