Servant leadership style is based on the idea the leader prioritizes serving the greater good. Typically, leaders with this style serve their team and organization first. Its rarely about their objectives but the needs of the collective. Both employees and stakeholders in a servant leadership environment are more likely to feel that their voices are heard.
If the above summary is accurate then it is no surprise that having a project run by a servant-leader is going to bring out the best in the stakeholders, subject matter experts and the ultimate success of the project.
Let’s dissect the elements of servant leadership and how they impact project leadership and the PMO.
Encourage diversity of thought
Diversity encompasses a myriad of traits. For the benefit of this missive, we are referring to how diversity affects thinking. Having a diverse team creates an environment where people want to join and become part of the team which leads to a wonderful array of perspectives. Acceptance, tolerance, variety, and the education that arises from being a part of a diverse group breeds changes in thinking and a broadening of horizons.
Servant leadership encourages members to think outside the box and take into consideration a wider range of viewpoints. The dialogue that ensues develops critical thinking with the final decision a true collective collaboration and exchange of ideas. A servant leader project manager is successful as they lead the team from a position of acknowledgement so that power never rests with one person. Giving everyone a seat at the table makes for a truly creative endeavor. Agile teams arise from the foundation of diversity and inclusion.
A Culture of trust
Trust is, as we are all aware, one of the hardest things to regain once it’s broken. Earning and creating trust should be a prime directive for any leader but on a project, even more so. Leading with honor and clearly communicating to everyone the values that the team and stakeholders are expected to live by leads to a successful outcome.
Did You Know: Sadly, only one in three employees strongly agree that they trust the leadership in their organization making this second core pillar even more important.
The servant-leader project manager can build this high level of trust by being crystal clear in all communications and in meetings; sharing notes, minutes, updates and consistently showing up for the team; stepping in and solving problems with kindness, grace, and professionalism.
When you hold the candle high the team can see and know they can be heard and supported. A great expression out of the mouth of my then 4-year-old daughter who at the time was attending nursery school was,
You are only a leader if somebody follows you.
Her naive little perspective arose from the shenanigans of little girls vying for attention to see who could attract the most interest from the group. However, this innocent statement made so much sense at a far deeper level. To me, it spoke volumes about how leadership is truly earned and not just a given title.
A project brought in ON-TIME, ON-SCOPE and ON-BUDGET is driven by subject matter experts, stakeholders, and participants honoring their commitments and feeling supported by the PMO.
An unselfish mindset
It’s not about you. It never was and it never will be. It is about the people who make it all happen. True ‘Hero’ leaders facilitate the success of others and make everyone feel valued and that their contributions matter.
Did You Know: Half of employees only feel “somewhat valued” and 1 in 10 don’t feel “valued at all,”
According to a January 2023 report by Workhuman. In its monthly Human Workplace Index, 46.4% reported the former and 10.7% reported the latter. Notably, 48.8% of women surveyed said they feel undervalued.
Foster leadership in others.
Every project is important and the members of the project team even more so. It is an honor to be a project manager and to lead a team through the mire and complexities of steps, processes, outcomes, slips & slides, looming milestones, and results but it is also a leader’s responsibility to appreciate the need to develop the next generation of leaders.
Team collaboration always flourishes the tenant running through the project is one of ‘We’ not ‘I’.
Foster leadership in others.
No matter the size or length or magnitude of the project, a servant leader understands the power of building a great team and understands the need to develop the next generation of leaders.
Fostering leadership happens in many ways. We lead by example; we lead by fostering and coaching; we lead by mentoring; and sometimes we lead with by offering words of encouragement and gestures of kindness and respect. Great leaders give back pure and simple.
Servant leaders give more of themselves not because they must, but because they want to. Servant leaders are transparent, honest, and yes, even vulnerable. That sounds like it would be a weakness, but on the contrary, it helps build you as a leader and lets others see you as a human being, not the policeman directing traffic and holding everyone accountable.
As a project manager I see these attributes in action every day; on every project and with every team member and personally know each of them to be key to the success of the members, the project and ultimately the organization.
Honoring and respecting the processes, guiding with kindness, dignity, nurturing, and consistency equals growth on all levels for all participants. Project leadership is more about understanding and listening than any other skill.
Let the 4xi Consulting PMO help guide your projects and bring them in ON-TIME ON-SCOPE, and ON-BUDGET.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DINA O'REILLY
Dina is 4xi's growth lead, project management office and ghostwriter in residence all in one. To learn more about 4xi, you can contact Dina directly at email@example.com or visit our website to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we inspire a brighter future, together: www.4xiconsulting.com
4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side, impacting the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.
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