My idea of a good project leader is someone who needs to be open to facts, evidence and other people’s views; they need to be open-minded. Of course cnly relying on facts you're told and not taking into account your own view and experience, or someone else's view is closed-minded - we can't blindly follow just the facts as those 'facts' may be wrong. We have to be considerate of all options available to us when making a decision or finding solutions. There are many things that a good project leader does or should be doing – the list is long. But in terms of keeping their views open and not moving forward with blinders on, these three actions are necessary when leading projects.
Accept all points of view when considering options and making decisions. If you're stuck with only your view or choose to disregard others in the decision-making or problem resolution process, what's going to happen? You're likely going to make a bad decision because you probably won't have all of the information possible to make a good decision. Problems on the project persist, teams get frustrated, and clients go sour when this type of leadership behaviour is exhibited. Don't be that type of leader. Take problems and options to the team. Conduct a meeting including all stakeholders – with a well-planned and documented agenda followed by good notes and follow-up, of course – and gather whatever information is needed to make the good decisions for the project. Information sharing is critical, and good, efficient and effective communication is job one for the project manager. Too many projects have been ruined by communication bottlenecks that led to poor understanding, wrong decisions and unfortunate results.
Ask questions. It's not weak to ask questions or for help in making decisions or solving problems. Asking questions helps eliminate the bad information and gets you closer to a better solution or the root of the problem. Asking questions can give you the other half of the picture. Trying to solve a problem with only half of the information or half of the picture is nearly impossible.
Be transparent. One of my top ones – be transparent with your project customer, your team, your stakeholders. Everyone is in the game with you. There's no need to go it alone or hide bad news and tough decisions. If you go it alone and fail, all fingers point at you. If you take it to the team and the customer, everyone works together to solve the problem or issue. If you go down, you go down together. But it's about transparency and communication. Committees may not be the best thing and they get made fun of enough. But project teams – including the customer who is part of that project team and ultimately, helping fund the project – are not a committee. They are a skilled group of individuals charged with delivering a successful project. Be transparent and use them when you run into a brick wall on the project and need help.
Summary / call for input
The bottom line is this – if we use only what we know and don't seek out information from others or open our eyes to all view angles, we can end up basing our knowledge, beliefs and decisions on only half the information available... or less. And it may be bad information.
Readers – what are your thoughts? How does it sit with you and the thought of close-minded decision making by the project manager? Dangerous or necessary sometimes? I'll give you sometimes... but rarely and only for the absolute scenario. Thoughts?