You’ve just got your dream project. It’s a career-maker, and if you do well, you know there are big things ahead for you. Chances are, you can’t wait to get started and prove yourself. That’s completely normal and definitely not a bad thing. But try to remember that just because it’s ‘your’ project, that does not mean you’re the only one impacted by it. As they say, there’s no I in team, but there are a lot of interdependencies with any project. Don’t be a selfish leader! Here’s how you can balance your need to shine while avoiding project selfishness.
Recognise the Signs
The first thing you need to do to avoid being project selfish and an overall selfish leader is recognise the signs that you’re heading that way.
If you’re thinking and talking in terms of I rather than we, dominating resources and worrying about who is going to get credit for what, you might be heading towards project selfishness.
Sometimes, there’s even a culture of project selfishness that you need to break free from. If everyone is always out for themselves and no one ever wants to share or compromise, you’re going to have a tough time getting anything done.
Try to remember that being agile is as much about collaboration as it is about delivering a successful project. You might all be working on different projects or different aspects of the project, but success all goes into the same bucket. When others succeed, that doesn’t diminish your accomplishments – it makes it easier to achieve more as the company grows and your capability increases.
Think About the Big Picture
Sometimes, project management can be myopic by nature. You’re hyper-focused on your project or just one task or milestone, so you tune out everything else.
It’s okay to be focused, but don’t become so focused that you lose sight of the big picture. Your project is one of many. They all exist to grow and benefit the organisation you work for, and they all need to succeed to keep your company growing.
Meet the Extended Team
The best way to remind yourself to work with your larger team is to meet them. Find out who the people are in the departments that feed you information and that you depend on to get the job done.
Familiarise yourself with their roles at a high level and find out what their goals and priorities are.
Spend some time talking to the people who depend on you for information and input too. Learn how the information they get from you impacts their work and how you can help them to achieve their goals.
Build Collaborative Plans
Once you’ve met the people that your project is connected to, found out what they need from you, and the challenges they face in their roles, build those things into your plans.
Maybe it’s hard for someone to provide information daily. Figure out a way to have a weekly roundup or build a system where they can update a shared spreadsheet when they have time.
Find out how your collaborators prefer to communicate. If they like emails rather than phone calls (or vice versa), figure out how to make that work – start an email group, so you can keep everyone in the loop at the same time when you need to.
If you know how to loop people who need to know in, and how they like to share and receive information, you’ll be better equipped to work with your extended team.
Meetings and Communication Are Key
One of the most important things you can do to avoid becoming project selfish and continue to build a culture of collaboration is to prioritise communication.
Make sure that your project plan includes regular meetings with people who are part of the extended project team, and make sure everything is still working for them. Every transformation takes adjustments, so you might need to make some changes to your process to make sure it works for everyone.
Everybody Can Win
The truth is, while you might think only focusing on your part of the project is the best way to succeed, the opposite is true. You’re always going to depend on other people to take care of things before they arrive on your desk, and there will always be people depending on you. Selfish leaders don’t share successes with the team.
Being agile and a good project manager is about doing things differently, and that includes building a culture where everybody can win. You’ll always be relying on other people to make your job possible, and vice versa. The sooner you accept and embrace that as part of your project’s success, the sooner you can start working with other stakeholders to make sure you all succeed.
Competition in workplaces is nothing new, but it can be detrimental to your company’s capability to tackle complex projects and succeed, if everyone’s being project selfish.
Contact us, so we can help you create a straightforward, results-oriented framework that connects governance, delivery, and culture to help you thrive and organise.
If you’d like to engage Fatimah as a coach/advisor for your organisation to help you make sense of the chaos, then you can reach out to her by email at Fatimah.email@example.com
To learn more about this, listen to our podcast episode where we discuss leadership lessons from Julia Steel, leadership and change expert!