During the many years of discussion around leadership, we have been told that anyone can be a leader. While this is true, not everyone can be the project leader of a large, complex, or fast-paced organization. Leaders of these organizations require a specific temperament. This article is a discussion about the temperament required by the leaders of large or complex organizations, or fast-paced businesses. However, every project leader can apply it within their organizations to some extent.
Leaders must be bold. Leaders must stand up for what they believe in, and stand behind their decisions. Leaders must be the face of their visions and also be the voice of those visions. In confrontations, leaders must be bold enough to stand up to the opposition. When changes are necessary, leaders will make the decision to change and champion the change.
This does not mean that leaders do not listen. It does not mean that leaders do not adjust their vision as they learn more. It means that they will carefully contemplate what is said and shown to them, before considering adjustments. Bold leaders are those that can lead organizations through real change. These changes are often difficult and have much opposition from outside and inside the organization.
A bold leader seeks out differing opinions. Having multiple opinions or viewpoints provides understanding. It allows the leader to examine the issue from all sides, and to hear many possible solutions. Bold leaders are not afraid to reshape their decisions based on the opinions of others with differing opinions. Bold leaders embrace these refinements, as they strengthen the direction that is decided upon.
One challenge leaders can face in major changes is the review of the fit of other leaders within the organization. In this case, they should be challenged to get on board with the changes, help put their support behind it. If they cannot or will not, they must be replaced with leaders who can champion the change. Again, a caution, leaders need to provide enough time for others to change, but cannot wait so long that they lose momentum. It is acceptable for other leaders to have differing opinions, as long as they support the decisions made above them. The type of leaders that should be avoided or removed, are those that will undermine the decisions and directions they were given.
Bold leaders look for real solutions. They look for real opportunities for improvement. Change for change’s sake is rarely a successful venture. However, there is nearly always things that can be improved upon. Good leaders can find and identify these opportunities. Often these solutions are hidden in complexity, so bold leaders must study the situation carefully to find elegant and simple solutions. Very good leaders can capitalize on these opportunities for improvement to lead change.
Boldness and abrasiveness are not the same things. Although often seen as interchangeable. Abrasive leaders create change for change’s sake, or they have difficulty encouraging and motivating others to recognize and follow their vision. Abrasive leaders “bulldoze” those around them to make the change. Bold leaders are masters of communication, and can truly read people. They can see genuine support or opposition. They can change the minds and hearts of those who are open to supporting change. You need not be abrasive to be a bold leader. You must be willing to stand up for your beliefs, and follow them through to a conclusion.
Everyone can potentially be a leader within his or her position, as leadership skills can be learned and used by anyone. Leadership skills can be pretty simple to learn. However, for leaders of large, complex, or fast-paced organizations simply using leadership skills is not enough. To lead one of these organizations, a leader must be bold.
Dr. Glen Jones, Ph.D., PMP, is the president of GMJ Leadership. He is an accomplished leader with over 26 years of experience in the development and management of large, complex international projects within the energy industry. Glen is currently a leadership coach and project management consultant performing project management audits, project audits, and 360 personnel assessments. His education culminated with his Ph.D. in project management from Northcentral University. Glen writes about strategy and governance.