While we discussed numerous project leadership keys in the previous section, it really boils down to a simple practical mindset that drives the thoughts, words, and actions of an effective project leader. It is a mindset of "service-first" and not "me-first." Personally, I had served as a project manager for many years before I ever learned that there was a name for the natural approach that I took to managing projects. The approach is called servant leadership, and it was popularized by Robert Greenleaf in 1970 in his book The Servant as Leader. Since then, the philosophy of servant leadership has been steadily growing in popularity and now serves as the foundation for most modern-day leadership training programs.
The servant leadership approach to project management gives you the best chance of doing the right work, the right way, for the right people.
One of the main reasons I took this type of approach naturally is because "it just made sense." In a project environment, where you are stakeholder-focused, where you must rely on yourself, where you must effectively relate to others to get work done, and where you must completely understand the needs and requirements of your customers to deliver the proper solution, it just seems to be a very practical path to take.
To me, it is a synergistic approach for any organization (or project) that values strong customer-service and team-focused approaches in their leaders.
To better illustrate what is meant by a servant leadership approach, and why I think this approach gives you the best chance of doing the right work, the right way for the right people on your project, let's look at the prominent characteristics of this philosophy:
When dealing with people, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting and a humble spirit.
Again, like all project management and leadership skills, a servant-leadership mindset is not an "all-or-nothing" approach. It is spectrum between a total egocentric, leader-first mindset on one end and a complete servant-first thought pattern on the other end. The goal is to do your best, continue to learn and work to improve over time, just like the other skill set areas.
The Absolute Minimum
At this point, you should have a solid understanding of the following:
Figure 16.2 summarizes the main points we reviewed in this chapter:
Figure 16.2. Overview of leading a project.
Part i. Project Management Jumpstart
Project Management Overview
The Project Manager
Essential Elements for any Successful Project
Part ii. Project Planning
Defining a Project
Planning a Project
Developing the Work Breakdown Structure
Estimating the Work
Developing the Project Schedule
Determining the Project Budget
Part iii. Project Control
Controlling a Project
Managing Project Changes
Managing Project Deliverables
Managing Project Issues
Managing Project Risks
Managing Project Quality
Part iv. Project Execution
Leading a Project
Managing Project Communications
Keys to Better Project Team Performance
Ending a Project