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Great Project Managers Look for More Leaders, Not More Followers

COMMENTARY

By Ron Taylor 

Virginia, USA
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Leaders are everywhere.  All you need is the patience and skill to find them.  Few of us are leaders in all situations, but nearly all of us are situational leaders.

Great project managers look for more leaders because they want to share responsibility and authority throughout the team.  They have confidence in their ability and are willing to take the risk that in enabling someone else to lead, they are also creating potential competitors.

The seemingly easy way to discourage challenges to your leadership is to create as many followers as you can.  From what I have seen, that actually makes your life more difficult.

So how do you manage the risk in looking for more leaders?  You let them know that, while you appreciate their expertise and the contributions they make, you are the leader among leaders.  Through your example you demonstrate that with more leaders working together in the same direction you are all more likely to succeed.  You position yourself as the person who can help them achieve what they want and they will support you, if only for their own self-interest.

The rewards of looking for more leaders are plentiful – more accomplishments, more creativity, more commitment and less work for you.  Part of that conversation is letting people know they do not always have to be in charge to make a contribution.  Give them the freedom to lead and to follow.  You are still going to find some who are not comfortable stepping up to a leadership role, and it is important that you appreciate the role they play.

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About the Author

flag-usaron-taylorRon Taylor MBA, PMP

Virginia, USA

Ron Taylor is an internationally-known leader, lecturer, author, and consultant, and the principal and founder of the Ron Taylor Group.  Ron served as President and CEO of a 10,000-person organization (PMIWDC) and was named Leader of the Year by the 500,000-person Project Management Institute (PMI®).

Ron is an Adjunct Professor in the MBA Programs at both Virginia Tech and George Mason University.  He is represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau, and his latest book, Leadership: Stories, Lessons and Uncommon Sense is available on Amazon.  Ron can be reached at [email protected]