Great project leaders need to be excellent communicators and motivators. Influencing and practicing art of charming can help us be more effective in managing our workforce assignments and teams. The work we do as project head could be greatly improved by applying the practical tips as provided. Charisma….anything that helps us become better communicators, better influencers, and better man managers and motivators is something we need to learn about.
Let’s highlight the three areas on our charisma as means to improve effectiveness.
1. Negative status reporting when the news isn’t great
Only handful projects, no matter how great be the collective efforts of team members, stay green 100% all time. In such situation being PM – voice of the project we should know the art on shifting our focus from what to say and to how to say it:
1. Do we leave a voicemail for our project sponsor that is vague and hints at bad news, but lacks specifics and so gives our sponsor room to imagine the worst?
2. When are we reaching out to sponsor to give a heads up? Late at night when there’s little time to gather facts or have a detailed discussion? Or first thing on a Monday morning when we a limited view into our sponsor’s mood?
3. Are you attempting to share this information while your sponsor is on the move between meetings, distracted, or otherwise in an uncomfortable environment?
4. What’s your mood? Are you stressed out and projecting that with your tone and body language?
Individually, these may seem to be minor things, but together they certainly are not. They are critical to how we are heard. Be mindful of all the pieces in play and where possible, adjust them so that our message is received in the best possible light.
2. Multiple stakeholder management
Have you ever tried to bath a kitten or a cat? You will not get away unscathed! They will screech. They will howl. They will bite and claw—they just don’t like it! Now imagine attempting to do the same with multiple cats.
While our human stakeholders are, thankfully, very unlikely to attempt to harm you, figuratively, they can be equally challenging. So when it comes to major decisions where we need our stakeholders onboard, together, to move the project forward, where could personality play a role?
1. “Divide and rule.” Each stakeholder is an individual. They each mention ways they like to be spoken to, and specify needs and concerns. While it could appear some stakeholders ‘vote together’, it is still important to address each stakeholder individually before major decisions, particularly in private!
2. Ask your stakeholders for help or at least their opinion on getting the decision through. Why? Well, think to when someone asks for your opinion, how do you feel? Even if you may not be too fond of them, doesn’t it make you feel respected? Would you potentially become invested in the outcome? Similarly, when dealing with opposition to a decision, enlisting the naysayer may turn that nay to a yap.
3. “Express gratitude.” Often your stakeholders may have a day job, which is to say that your project may not be their primary function. Reminders never hurt and it is neither tricky nor manipulative to express appreciation for their hard work. It can help them to re-invest in keeping your project moving forward.
There are many more exercises and tips. Let’s get to the last area the people part of project management.
3. Revitalizing the dejected , and the Disillusioned.
Whether you are early in your career as a project leader or if you have been around the block a few times, it’s only so long you can go without encountering a severely challenged or even failing project. Survey says 50% of respondents said that they had a project fail in the past 12 months. That same survey pointed out that 74% said that they did not have enough resources or staff to manage their project demand.
What does that mean? Remember, projects are merely objects. They setup certain boundaries and limits, but it is people who do the actual work. When they are on a failing project they are likely overworked and as the atmosphere starts to become gray, the state of mind can quickly turn negative.
“Charisma is particularly effective during times of uncertainty, ambiguity, or crisis.”
This is the time when, as project leaders, we must step up. Our project teams will look to us to set the right tone, to maintain the team’s focus, and to plan a way forward. How can we do this?
1. Take care of yourself. Check your body language, what is it saying? Attitude: negative, positive, or distracted? Stay focused on the positive, stay healthy, and keeps you at an even keel. Your team is looking for clues on how they should feel and act.
2. It is when things are tough that a project team needs to dig in. As a project leader, we can help them do that by maintaining high expectations and sharing those expectations with your team, on an individual basis. Why does this help? Put yourself in the same position. When someone we respect and look to for direction has a confident and positive view of our abilities, how do we feel? What do we do? We do our best to live up to it. We find the extra juice, the extra oomph to meet those expectations.
3. Have you ever heard the phrase “keep your eye on the ball?” It easy to lose focus of the why we’re doing a project, but that’s where as a project leader we can step up and articulate that vision. We can tell what the path to that vision should be and when our team gets onboard with that, it will motivate them to keep working.
Charisma and the project leader, perhaps a perfect match?
So, what do we think? Is there something here for us? Is practicing the art of charisma something that we as project leaders need to do? We should think so and here’s why: project leaders are leaders. We rarely get to do work ourselves and we, individually, can’t do a project on our own. We work with others and the stronger our personal charisma blended with a genuine interest in the people we are working with is probably one of the most powerful ways for us to be successful, together.