Respect is a key component of leadership, especially on projects that are by nature temporary endeavors for which teams are assembled only for a certain period of time. Four elements appear to be critical:
- learn to listen
- create proximity and trust
- provide opportunities to team members
- recognize your own limits and ask advice from experts
1. respect starts with listening
In my opinion, respect begins with listening. I know project managers who speak all the time. It is very true that communication is a major part of our job but it is not less true that communication is bidirectional. It is mandatory to stop speaking from time to time in order to be able to listen to others, to verify that the message we sent was well received and also fully understood.
On this matter, remaining silent is not enough. Project managers need to look at opening the dialogue, asking for comments, understanding criticism and valuing his interlocutors' ideas. Numerous leaders who succeed thank their capacity to listen and to ask the right questions. It may even be known as their key strength.
2. facilitate proximity and trust building
To receive true and sincere comments, it is necessary to establish a relation of proximity (and of trust) with your team and customers. This applies even more so in case of geographically distributed, or multicultural teams. An "open door" attitude and management by "wandering around" are particularly effective.
In addition, cooperative tools can reproduce a certain level of openness and create proximity: instant messaging, Twitter, SMS, blogs … are less formal ways to communicate that encourage closeness.
3. recognize contribution and publicize them
To recognize and advertise the contributions of each is very important. It is one of the managers' role - and project management includes people management. It is most often done by delegating tasks which challenge their abilities and/or create new competencies. These will always benefit to the company in due time, on this project or on the next ones.
On the contrary, monopolizing others' successes cannot be a proof of leadership and will not lead the project manager very far (while helping them to build their reputation will ease their transition to their next challenge when the project ends).
4. recognize your own limits and ask advice from experts
Finally, we cannot be experts in all fields and we shouldn't attempt to. Knowing how to attract the most skilled people in your team is the strength of all leaders and in particular project managers...
Photo credit: © draganica - Fotolia.com
I've been leading IT projects for more than 20 years at telecom and computer manufacturers: Thomson Sintra, Digital Equipment, NCR, Nortel Networks, Orange Business Services. My passion is Project Management and leadership and I run a blog on the PM best practices at http://dantotsupm.com/