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Six Ways to Be a Leader Instead of a Boss

Innovative-e’s own Eoin Callan, Managing Partner, was recently a speaker at PMI Tampa Bay’s Annual Symposium, and upon his return, he reported back to our team some of the things he learned while at the conference. Eoin was particularly impressed by one of the keynote workshop speakers’ differentiation between bosses and leaders.

The keynote workshop speaker in question is Andy Worshek, who led the chapter in a workshop called “Turn the Ship Around,” an examination of how David Marquette built a culture of teamwork to achieve excellence aboard the USS Santa Fe with lessons for people in business.

Eoin’s takeaway from Andy’s presentation keynote included these points:

  1. Bosses make people “do.” Leaders make people “think.”
  2. Bosses make people feel stress. Leaders make people feel safe.
  3. Bosses push information to authority. Leaders push authority to information.
  4. Bosses want to be good. Leaders want to get better.
  5. Bosses fix people. Leaders fix the environment.
  6. Bosses think their way to new action. Leaders act their way to new thinking.

Let’s drill down and look at some of the specific tactics a project manager can implement to be a leader rather than a boss:

  1. A leader’s role is not to come to a consensus, but to uncover all the info needed in order to make a proper decision.
  2. To foster an open and “safe” atmosphere, try saying, “Tell me about…” rather than demanding to know “Why?”
  3. Don’t use binary questions – leave things open-ended to promote more thorough and useful discussion.
  4. Separate the positions from the people.
  5. Speak last if you want different opinions – as a leader, you’re a pace-setter, and you will garner more varied response if you let other people express their thoughts before they know yours.
  6. Speak first if you want to win an argument (but lose relationships).
  7. Allow anonymous responses.
  8. Investigate outliers – there may be a good reason for dissenting opinions that you might not have considered.
  9. Fear shuts down curiosity.
  10. Watch out for folks looking to avoid errors rather than those looking to achieve excellence. The latter always strive for what’s best for the client/organization/everybody.

Are you a leader or a boss? We’d love to hear how you distinguish yourself as a leader and what lessons you’ve learned as a project manager. Drop us a line at info@innovative-e.com and tell us your tactics!

Like diving deeper into topics treating effective leadership? You might like our Leadership Insights video series, by Jim Kennedy, retired Director of Kennedy Space Center. Check it out!