ProjectManagement.com – Technical leadership

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This blog is about many different topics you encounter every day as project managers. I believe my experience, knowledge and observations will be useful for your professional development, and I hope that this blog may become a good platform for discussions on topics like management, emotional intelligence, agile, leadership, project management methodologies, IT project management and more.

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Technical leadership

It is considered that one of the most significant features of managing is leadership. We, as project managers, are not exceptions, so I firmly believe that more or less every project manager is a leader.

However, let us look into the matter. Leadership – is it more about a quality or about a skill? For myself, I solved this issue long ago, breaking the concept of leadership into two, and they are different in nature: inborn leadership and technical or acquired leadership. In the first case, this is definitely a quality. In the second – a skill.

It is not easy to talk about the first one (although in the following posts I want to cover this topic). The point here is not only in the complexity of the topic in terms of psychology, sociology, physiology and other “logies”, but also in the contextuality, that cannot be generalized, within which one could consider different behavior patterns of leaders. I just want to note that the inborn leadership is in fact very different from the technical leadership. First, it is inimitable (whatever someone says). Secondly, it is usually more intense in its impact. Thirdly, it is practically uncontrollable, so from the point of view of increasing the efficiency even born leaders would benefit from improving their technical leadership.

To compensate for my laconicity on the topic of inborn leadership, I will just leave a picture here I like a lot.

So, today I would like to talk about the second type of leadership.

If we consider something as a skill, then we can talk about three important components: how we learn it, how we apply it, what advantages it gives.

1. Leadership training

We all know how many training courses and other materials on the topic of leadership exist. Thousands of them. However, I did not see any strong leader who became such due to specialized courses were passed or books were read. Here it is important to say that I do not consider those who spent thousands of hours to learn and practice leadership skills (how many people of this type do you know?), but who episodically read some books or go for a 3/5/7 days trainings. My observations are confirmed by some studies (link): with the colossal growth of the market for leadership development, general disappointment in this direction from real business is also growing. It seems that, as an approach to developing, reading and training are very controversial ways for such a skill as leadership.

The second key way is an experience. Taking a proactive position, we always try (consciously or unconsciously) different ways of influencing people and situations.  We take into service methods that work well and over the years we accumulate a decent arsenal for a variety of cases. It seems that this way is good enough, but the fact is no so easy. Firstly, a person rarely does something that he or she has never encountered, never heard or even thought about if it is possible. Secondly, you can always face a situation that has not been analogous in the past. This greatly limits the development of the skill.

There is a third way – mentoring. However, it is not so popular, and it depends on the personality of the mentor or mentee, and also on the context of applying the skill.

It turns out that there are no universal recipes here. You need to research and look for a method that is right for you. This is not easy, but generally we have no choice.

2. Application

This topic is extensive but strongly depends on specific methods.

In the next article, I will consider this topic in terms of how you should NOT do it.

Now I can only write as an extremely general recommendation as it possible: be adequate. Here I say just about the fact that it is always worthwhile to act taking in account of the specific situation in its entirety. Do not just apply a certain behavior pattern. Think about the situation, analyze it and make your decisions relevant to circumstances.

3. Efficiency

I can say with confidence that a manager, who has powerful leadership skills, can achieve tremendous results that no one could believe. Sometimes it even happens that the leadership of a manager is the only driving force.

Leadership is the ability to influence not only people. A strong leader, which has inner willingness and confidence in success, can change even complex stable structures, can change the vision.

Can I say that leadership is a necessary skill? Almost always – yes. There are very few examples where a group of people without any leader achieved a common goal, but it is because each of them was responsible, motivated, adequate, and communicative, who understands and accepts the common goal. Unfortunatelly we all know that in real projects it is almost impossible.

 

So, what do we have?

If you are a manager, you must develop your technical leadership. How? Look for the path by yourself, there are no universal recipes and magic pills. Use leadership skills consciously and accurately and your results will exceed your expectations.

Posted on: July 24, 2018 09:35 AM |
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