Lead a team animation

Leadership vs. Management

"Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done.”
Warren Bennis

As this quote explains, leadership goes beyond directing work and instead engages the motivation of others.

For team members, good leadership makes the difference between going to work just for money versus feeling like they are making a difference in a supportive environment that recognizes their contributions. Leadership skills are crucial for building high-performing teams. Leadership, coupled with management skills, magnifies productivity.

Motivation and Productivity

We all experience different levels of motivation and productivity. Sometimes we are keen to do the work, sometimes any other distraction seems more appealing. This is normal at the small scale of minute-to-minute tasks. Yet, it also manifests up to our overall performance in a role.

The image below shows how team member productivity contributions can vary from net-negative Undermining or Resistance on the left-hand side all the way to Passionate Innovation on the right.

The spectrum of productivity

Our job, as project managers, is to move people more to the right. We use leadership skills to do this.

Leadership is a vast topic; more has been written about it throughout history than the whole field of project management. To address the critical leadership tasks and enablers covered in the PMP exam, we will briefly cover the 5 leadership behaviors from the book “The Leadership Challenge.”

  1. Model the way – Exhibit the behavior you want to see in others
  2. Inspire a shared vision – Reveal the beckoning summit so others can chart their own course
  3. Challenge the process – Search for opportunities, innovate and experiment
  4. Enable others to act – Foster collaboration, create a climate of trust, strengthen others
  5. Recognize contributions – celebrate the values and victories, show appreciation


1) Model the Way

Authors of the Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner, conducted a 10 year study of more than 75,000 people and asked, “What values do you look for in your leader?”

They gave people a choice of 20 recognized positive traits and asked people to select their top five.  Time after time, from country to country, across industries and demographics, the same four attributes emerged first. 

1.1) Honest

More than intelligence, imagination or courage, these four attributes are what people look for. The number one trait is honesty. We will not willingly follow dishonest people for long. This is because emotion precedes action; it has to feel right for us to commit to them. It undermines our own sense of worth to follow someone we do not respect.

Without honesty and integrity, other personality traits or skills do not matter because people are no longer listening. We demonstrate honesty by following through on what we committed to, by not lying and showing integrity through our behaviors and actions.

Project managers should demonstrate the behaviors they wish their team to exhibit. Admit your mistakes, promote candid discussion of issues and show humility. Adopt a sharing, abundance model to information and always be communicating.

1.2) Forward-Looking

The second attribute, “Forward-looking,” means being able to create a clear and compelling view of where we are trying to get to. People will only willingly follow you when they think you have somewhere worthwhile in mind.

This does not only apply to high profile CEOs and visionaries like Elon Musk; the same applies to mundane projects such as repainting toilet blocks and performing office moves. People need to see you have a plan, and you can describe it effectively. We will look at how to create a compelling vision shortly.

1.3) Competent

 Leaders do not have to be super-efficient, technical geniuses. Instead, they just need to be competent enough to guide us. A track record for getting things done is more important than domain expertise as the other team members can fill in any gaps.

1.4) Inspiring

 People want their leaders to be enthusiastic, energetic and optimistic about the future. After all, if a leader shows no passion for a cause, why should anyone else? Emotions are contagious, and so if the leader can generate some enthusiasm for the goal, hopefully, this will spread to the other team members. No one suggests being artificially optimistic (this goes against honesty), but leaders who can inspire contribution are preferred over dull or pessimistic thinkers.

The remaining Leadership Challenge behaviors (2 Inspire a shared vision thru 5 Recognize contributions) are described in the following enabler sections.

1.2.1 Set a Clear Vision and Mission

(Paint a clear picture of where we are trying to get to)

Linked to the Forward-looking attribute, a critical step in leading a team is creating a clear and motivating vision of where we are trying to get to.

One of the best ways to understand the importance of creating a clear vision for a project is to consider how we act when we do not have a clear vision. What do we do when we are driving in fog?

We slow down. Unclear of what lies ahead, we take our foot off the gas and proceed very cautiously. The same happens on projects. Without a clear view of where we are trying to get to, teams are hesitant. Clarity and direction allow focused effort and speed.

Vision unites teams and concentrates their effort. To be effective, the project vision should be:

  • Ideal
  • Specific
  • Visual
  • Future-Oriented
  • Purpose-Driven

Project managers can do this in many ways.

Traditional Icon


Project Vision statements describe the desired end-goal and outcomes for the project. They depict the project‘s direction and general destination, which helps with funding and stakeholder alignment.  A good vision gives project participants a reason for contributing (beyond it being their job.)

There are many templates for creating project vision and mission statements. Too many to review in this short revision format. Instead of trying to cover them all, we will instead take a closer look at just one technique called “Design the Product Box”.

Agile icon

Agile projects often use a vision/kick-off exercise called Design the Product Box to co-create the project vision statement. The activity is derived from “Design the brochure description” described in the book “Managing the Design Factory.” By Don Reinertsen. Later, Jim Highsmith outlined the “Design the Product Box” exercise in his book “Agile Project Management.” Since its introduction, the exercise has started to be used in hybrid and traditional project settings too. Have a look at the description below and see if it could be adapted to work on your projects. 

Co-Creating the Project Vision with Design the Product Box

This exercise can be used at Kick-off meetings to help clarify the project objectives and align stakeholders around those objectives. Sponsors, business and team members are split into two mixed groups to contain people from each functional area. The groups are asked to imagine that we were to sell the completed successful project outcome. Each group then has 20 minutes to design the box the product will ship in following some simple rules.

On the front of the box, they must create the product name, optionally a logo, and the top three features. Not four or five, just the three essential features for the project/product to deliver. Then on the back, they can list the next 10-15 most important features.

After the 20 minutes is up, each of the teams presents their product boxes and explains why they thought their three items were the most important. The dialog that ensues as executives and business representatives who were split between teams debate the merits of their top three list compared to others is incredibly valuable.

Kick-off meetings can otherwise be limp, introduction focussed sessions. By using the product box exercise, we quickly drive out key project issues. A final product box is created (sometimes with executive tie-breaking), and a strong sense of purpose and vision is created.

This exercise is useful as it embodies the five principles of a good project vision:

1) Ideal – it represents some future preferred state

2) Specific – it is not generic (like statements such as “happy stakeholders”, “conforms to requirements”) but a product of a specific team addressing a definite problem

3) Visual – Images are important because they connect the right and the left sides of the brain, enabling us to better understand the preferred end state.

4) Future-Oriented – providing a target to aim for in the future

5) Purpose-Driven – provides a common goal that stakeholders who have different skills can all work towards.

Vision Helps with Local Decision Making

Creating a clear vision for the project helps stakeholders make better local decisions aligned to the overall goal. Leadership Challenge authors Kouzes and Posner liken creating a strong vision to “Revealing a beckoning summit towards which others can chart their own course.”

Describe the end goal vision

Once we explain and illustrate where we are going, it will help everyone else as they make decisions in their day to day work. This way, when faced with their choices, or forks in the trail towards project completion, they make decisions aligned with the larger goal.

Establishing a project vision is not a once-and-done process. The best leaders spend a significant portion of their time maintaining the shared vision of success criteria. This is in part because people forget, people adopt simpler interpretations that suit their needs better, and stakeholders leave and join the project.

Recommunicate Vision

1.2.2 Support Diversity and Inclusion

Support diversity and inclusion
(Seek and encourage diversity and inclusion)

The benefits of diversity and inclusions are widespread and well documented. This link provides a comprehensive list of diversity research, which cites the following project team advantages:

  • Fewer blind spots – Diversity brings more insights and viewpoints to all discussions
  • Improved risk management – A wider range of experiences allows for identifying a broader set of scenarios that may happen
  • Better customer empathy – Diverse teams have higher levels of empathy and are more likely to relate with a diverse customer base than a mono-culture team
  • Better decision making – With more insights and viewpoints, a more extensive set of options and alternatives are evaluated, and more robust decisions made


Outside the project team, the research listed above also shows the following organizational benefits:

  • Lower employee turnover
  • Higher employee job satisfaction
  • Boosting company reputation
  • Lower instances of fraud


So, beyond the moral justification for increasing diversity and inclusion, there are clearly many business benefits. Once we acknowledge these benefits, the next question becomes, “How do we increase diversity and inclusion in our projects?”

Diversity and Inclusion How-To’s

The following list of steps is a primary starting point. Project managers should also consult their own organization’s policies on Diversity and Inclusion. If they are lacking, consider lobbying for more. The benefits are well documented and the principles justified.

  • Recognize that change starts with us – We have to embrace diversity and inclusion to have any conviction or energy to effect meaningful changes.
  • Education and awareness – learn and teach how diversity is not just gender, race and religion. It also includes age, language, disability, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and other factors.
  • Expand recruiting – do not just use the typical recruiting sources – that will return the usual candidates. Consider online job boards, community colleges, and offering relocation packages to attract more diverse candidates.
  • Review job post wording – watch for masculine type language such as “ambitious” and “dominate.” These terms may be less appealing to female applicants.
  • Offer flexibility – accommodating different working hours can help people with child care requirements or those health issues. It also allows for a better general work-life balance.
  • Floating holidays – provide flexibility for differing religious preferences.
  • Strengthen anti-discrimination policies – ensure diversity and inclusion are taken seriously and infractions are dealt with appropriately.
  • Tools choice and training – Some project tool choices might favor demographics that are already familiar with them (Kik, TikTok, Slack). Do not assume everyone will be familiar with them and provide training as required.
  • Create inclusive workplaces – provide nursing rooms, prayer rooms and whatever other space people need or want to feel included.
  • Promote dialog – create an open dialog about pay inequalities. Make sure you listen to your employees and provide leadership opportunities.

If this sounds like a lot of work, maybe you are working somewhere that needs a lot of work doing on it? Now workplace reviews are openly posted online, and roles more temporary, the workforce is more mobile than ever. Organizations that do not take diversity and inclusion seriously will lose the war for talent.

1.2.3 Value Servant Leadership

Become the bridge to success for others
(Become the bridge to success for others)

Servant leadership was popularized by Robert Greenleaf and described a mindset and set of practices. It flips the power pyramid, so instead of the team working to serve the leader, the leader supports the team.

Flipped Power Pyramid

Servant leadership is a mindset and value system. It is based on recognizing that the team members deliver the project benefits, so the best thing a project manager can do is serve the team and help them succeed. This maximizes the amount of value they can produce and increases the capabilities and capacity of the group.

Project managers can practice servant leadership by shielding the team from interruptions, removing obstacles from their path, and ensuring the team has what they need to encourage growth. Let’s review each competency in more detail.

Sheild Team

1) Sheild the team from interruptions – A critical role of a leader is to let the team do their work. Distractions and low-priority interruptions can come from many sources. They might be requests from superfluous sources or demands for low-priority admin work. Even quick interruptions cause task-switching and interrupt the flow of the team.

Special-ops and Skunkworks teams have been effective and highly productive partly because they were separated and shielded from interruptions. So see what you can do to keep the team protected from low-priority or non-value adding activities.

No interuptions
Remove roadblocks

2) Remove Obstacles – Clearing the path of impediments, obstacles, and constraints is a vital role for a servant leader. It involves both observing the team and listening to them report issues, concerns or frustrations. Then, remove these blockers and ease the constraints so that team members can be more effective and deliver value.

For example, during a daily standup meeting or team meeting, someone reports delays due to a slow-performing tool and delays from a vendor. The project manager can take on the role of investigating tool upgrades or following-up with the vendor. The project manager is serving the team, doing what they can to assist with the smooth operation and maximum throughput of work.

3) (Re)Communicate the project vision – a critical role of a project leader is to communicate and re-communicate the project vision. By creating a clear image of the completed solution and project goals, stakeholders can check and align their decisions and work towards the common project objective. This is the “Reveal a beckoning summit towards which others can chart their own course” Idea. Put simply, a common vision helps keep people pulling in the same direction.

When busy executing a project, it is common for divergent views to develop between well-intentioned team members. Team member’s desires for simplicity or to try new technology can diverge from business requirements. Quality analyst’s desires for completeness and conformance can separate from the sponsor’s wishes for rapid progress and completion.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that a trait of Level 5 Leaders (the most effective and leaders of great companies) dedicate a much higher percentage of their work time to communicating and re-communicating project and corporate vision. Kouzes and Posner believe it is almost impossible for leaders to over-communicate project vision, which is a critical step for effective leadership.

So, don’t have just one vision exercise at project kick-off and then assume you are done. Continually look for opportunities to communicate the project vision and new ways to illustrate and reinforce that vision.

Provide fuel and growth

4) Provide fuel and encourage growth – People need encouragement and support to try new things and deliver in challenging environments. Servant leaders provide what they need, whether that’s help with a new tool, an introduction to a customer, or just some kind words of encouragement. Help make them successful as best you can.

We need to celebrate small victories (and, of course, major accomplishments) as we go. It is tempting to save the project celebrations to the end, but we may never meet a successful end without some regular recognition. Celebrations and recognition are momentum building exercises. We need to practice them frequently so obstacles can be broken through and the final project goals accomplished.

Servant leaders look for opportunities to grow the capabilities of the team members. This may be through mentoring, training or providing a safe environment for people to try new skills or roles. When we show an interest in our team members’ long-term success, two powerful benefits occur.

First, the team members will appreciate the interest in them beyond just filling a role. When people see the opportunity for personal growth, they are far more likely to be motivated to contribute. Second, by growing the team’s capabilities, we are increasing the organization’s capabilities and worth. Subsequent projects and operational work will benefit.

Putting these roles together, servant leaders facilitate rather than manage. They shield the team from interruptions, clear the path for the team, frequently remind everyone of the destination and provide encouragement and sustenance for long term success.

Servant leader roles

1.2.4 Determine an Appropriate Leadership Style

(Choose the path that best aligns with the situation)

There are many styles of leadership, in addition to servant leadership. While servant leadership is usually the dominant theme, there will be times when the team might benefit from some emphasis in one area or another.

A project manager plays a critical team leadership role. This role needs to maintain a healthy balance for getting the project work done and keeping people motivated and engaged. It balances a concern for production and concern for people. Ideally, we want to operate in the upper right quadrants of the images below with a high concern for both people and production.

Choose leadership style

However, from time to time, priorities change and alternative leadership styles/emphasis are required. For example, when an important deadline is approaching, it might be necessary to adopt more of a Directing style (lower right) for a short time, knowing there will be Supporting work to do afterward.

Likewise, when conflict occurs on the team, production focus might be sidelined while team issues are resolved or at least stabilized. Long term, we want to be in the upper-right coaching role, but things rarely go to plan for long. Good project managers flex their approach and focus as they adapt and aim to maximize the team’s long-term productivity.

McCelland's Theory of Needs

Psychologist David McClelland said people are motivated by three needs:

achievement icon

Achievement – the desire to excel and succeed. People with a high need for achievement prefer tasks where they can take personal responsibility, set challenging goals, and receive performance feedback. They like recognition. We can motivate these people with challenging yet attainable tasks and clear performance indicators.

Affiliation icon

Affiliation – the desire for interpersonal relationships. People with a high need for affiliation prefer cooperative situations over competitive ones. They like approval over recognition. We motivate these individuals through a collaborative team environment, encourage social interactions, and resolve conflicts amicably.

Power icon

Power – the desire to have control or influence over others. They like to control others, or organize the efforts of a group to achieve goals. We motivate these people by delegating authority, involving them in decision-making processes, and providing leadership opportunities.

1.2.5 Inspire, Motivate and Influence Team Members/Stakeholders

Inspire people
(Create an environment where people want to contribute and do their best)

Inspiring and motivating a team can seem like a daunting task, but much of it comes down to creating a productive environment. When the right components are in place, people will want to contribute. To make such an environment, we need to understand some motivation theory.

Douglas McGregor popularized the “Theory X and Theory Y” approach to worker motivation in the 1960s. He explained that “Theory X views employees as inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can. Management believes that workers need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed.

Theory Y, however, assumes employees are ambitious and self-motivated. They enjoy creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations. Managers should communicate openly with staff, minimizing the difference between superior-subordinate relationships, creating a comfortable environment in which people can develop and use their abilities. This climate includes the sharing of decision-making so that staff have a say in decisions that influence them.”

There is a close link to servant leadership here. McGregor shows “Management” above the “Staff”, suppressing them in the Theory X model and “Management” below the “Staff” elevating them in Theory Y. These days, most organizations try to adopt more Theory Y than Theory X, since it leads to better motivations. However, probably everyone has experienced Theory X at some point in their careers too.

Another popular motivation theory is Herzberg’s Two-factor theory into job satisfaction and motivation. The two factors are intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external). Herzberg asserted that people are motivated by intrinsic factors (such as advancement, growth and achievement) and extrinsic factors (pay, status, working conditions.)

These extrinsic factors behave more like basic hygiene. People need them to be satisfied, but they are not motivators by themselves. Yet, failure to address these hygiene factors will result in demotivation. These intrinsic motivators and extrinsic demotivators (if not present) as shown as wind and anchors below.

Herzberg Two-factor Motivation model

It is easier to motivate people with internal, intrinsic feelings of interesting work, accomplishment and the ability to advance in their careers. When we try to encourage people using external, extrinsic factors such as status and money, they are not as motivating. Instead, they are potential demotivators if not provided. When we know what motivates people (intrinsic motivators) and what upsets them (not having extrinsic motivators), we stand a much better chance of having happy, more motivated teams.

Psychological Safety

We need to create an environment where people feel welcomed and safe to ask questions. Without this, people will not engage or produce anything of worth. We also need to make people feel safe to create and share their work with peers and customers and suggest improvements to the process. These various levels of safety form the domain of workplace psychological safety.

Psychological safety describes how comfortable we are at interacting, contributing and questioning others at work. In the book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety, author Timothy Clark outlines the following model for understanding psychological safety, which progresses through four stages:

Stages of psychological safety

1) Inclusion Safety – the basic human need to belong and be accepted by a group. People need to feel safe to be themselves, including any unique attributes. Without inclusion safety, people feel excluded.

2) Learner Safety – the encouragement needed to learn, experiment and grow. Safety when asking questions, getting feedback, trying things out and making a few mistakes along the way. Without learner safety, people will be unwilling to try new approaches.

3) Contributor Safety – the feeling of safety required to contribute something and have it judged by others. People will guard their work for too long without contributor safety, waiting for it to be perfect and miss out on early feedback. They will also not feel like they are making a difference.

4) Challenger Safety – having the permission and “air cover” needed to challenge the status quo. To question why things are done that way and suggest ways to make things better. Without challenger safety, retrospectives and improvement initiatives will suffer since no one will speak up and discuss what is wrong.

Project managers can establish psychological safety by modeling the desired behavior. We should admit our mistakes and ask basic questions. Having the courage to “learn out loud” shows we do not have all the answers, and it is okay and encouraged for people to be open.

1.2.6 Analyze Team Members and Stakeholders Influence

Analyze Team Members and Stakeholders Influence
(Determine and act intelligently around influence)

Understanding influence is a crucial skill for navigating successful relationships. It helps us determine who to spend the most time listening to and how to best communicate on the project. As a project manager, our own influence travels in many directions. It goes upwards (senior management), downwards (team or specialists), outwards (external) and sideways (project manager’s peers).

The Salience Classification Model is a way to classify influence based on the three attributes of

  • Power – their authority
  • Legitimacy – how appropriate their involvement is in the project
  • Urgency – their immediate need
Salience Model

Where these influence circles overlap, we get subgroups of Core, Dominant, Dangerous and Dependent. Stakeholders in the central Core area need the most attention since they have power, legitimacy and urgency. Your project sponsor would be an example of someone with Core influence.

As we move further away from the Core, the strategies for working with people can flex based on their influence and the project needs. Stakeholders in the Dominant, Dangerous, and Dependent regions still need plenty of attention since they mix two influence factors. The outer Dormant, Discretionary and Demanding groups would typically be served third, behind the other groups.

The Salience Model is a useful classification tool. It helps us consider stakeholders based on their level of authority (Power), how appropriate their involvement is in terms of the project (Legitimacy) and their immediate needs (Urgency.) However, in real-life, personalities often have a strong influence on how much attention we need to dedicate to them to be effective.

Also, the areas of overlap are not that intuitive to people. So you might spend as long explaining the model to someone unfamiliar with it as you do discussing strategies to work with people. A simpler model is the Power Interest Grid.

The Power Interest Grid groups stakeholders based on their authority levels (power) and interest in the project.

Power interest grid

During the Stakeholder Analysis of a project, we:

  • Determine which stakeholders to manage closely and which will require less effort
  • Determine the level of participation required from each stakeholder
  • Document the interests and motivations of stakeholders in a project
  • Identify the stakeholders that can make the project unsuccessful
  • Look for any conflicting interests and relationships between stakeholders
  • Determine communication strategies and medium best suited for each stakeholder


This analysis helps us focus our time and energy on the stakeholders that can make or break the project. It also allows us to create a communication and stakeholder strategy.

1.2.7 Distinguish Between Various Options to Lead Team Members and Stakeholders

(Putting the theories to use)
(Putting the theories to use)

After categorizing our stakeholders and understanding the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, we still need to lead the team. Some team members will likely be competent, diligent and a pleasure to work with. Others, not so much.

To maximize our chances of success, we should work diligently to create a positive environment and be proactive about tackling conflict when arguments go beyond constructive disagreement. Other factors, such as creating a sense of solidarity/cohesion within the team, providing regular recognition and rewards, along with leading with emotional intelligence, all play an essential role. 

Many of these topics are covered in more detail in their own sections.


For the remainder of this section, we will focus on a couple of topics not mentioned in the list above. These are challenging the process and providing recognition and rewards.

Challenge the Process

Challenging the process may sound rebellious, and that’s a deliberate motivating strategy. We should always encourage teams to innovate, grow and improve. However, “continuous improvement” may sound trite or too much like hard work to some people. “Challenge the process” – that’s something I can get behind!

We can identify improvements by asking the team for suggestions, looking at problem areas and sources of waste. Then through small-scale experiments, try the suggested new approach in a controlled environment. If it works then great, we can try larger tests and make the process standard. If it fails, what can we learn from this? Is there a better way and what should we try next?

Agile icon


Agile approaches can use the regularly scheduled retrospective workshops to look for improvements and define experiments for the upcoming iteration. The frequent reviews and short development cycle times make it simple to build improvement into the regular process.

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There is nothing to stop hybrid and traditional approach projects from also scheduling regular reviews and improvement trials. It just takes a little more planning. Phase gate and milestone reviews provide good opportunities, as do end of quarter look-backs.

During these reviews, the basic topics to review include:

1) What went well?

2) Where do we have opportunities for improvement?

3) What experiments should we try in the next period?

Another tool we can use is an Action Wheel. Drawn on a whiteboard, the quadrants of a wheel are labeled: “Do More of”, “Do Less of”, “Start Doing”, “Stop Doing” as shown below:

Retro action wheel

The format used is less important than ensuring we regularly engage the team in ways to improve. Then, once practical ideas have been suggested, follow-through on some experiments. Asking for improvements and then ignoring them is a sure-fire way to disengage people.

Teams can bring better visibility to their ideas and experiments by using boards (information radiators) to show content, progress and outcomes.

Idea board
Ideas and Experiments Board (Image Credit: Trent Hone and Andrew Jarding, MindSettlers)

As well as creating better processes for your organization, challenging the process also builds your team’s sense of autonomy. When people help define how they work, they feel a stronger sense of ownership and commitment to it, which is a powerful motivator.

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Daniel Pink author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us,“ explains people are motivated by the internal concepts of:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose.


Autonomy means giving people control over how they work. Including control over:

    Task – the work they do and how they undertake it

    Time – when they choose to work in the day, week, year

    Technique – How they perform tasks and from where

    Team – How they organize, interact and collaborate

Experiments, retrospectives, lessons learned and challenging the process all contribute to building a sense of autonomy for work.

Mastery describes the pleasure we get from doing what we love and following our passion. We are in the zone, or what Pink calls finding our flow. “Flow” is the term to describe the state of mind when time seems to disappear, and we are just immersed in the task.

Mastery comes from:

    Flow – having the time, space and freedom to find and exercise your passion for a profession

    Goldilocks Tasks – Not too difficult and not too easy, but just right. We need enough Goldilocks tasks to stretch, engage and indulge our desire for completion and satisfaction.

    Mindset of learning – people want to learn new skills and extend their capabilities. When we create learning opportunities at work, people are more motivated.

Purpose describes tapping into people’s belief that there should be more to work than just making money and success. Instead, aligning company goals with individual’s aspirations for doing good and meeting a higher guiding principle.

We may not work for organizations with compelling goals or inspirational objectives. However, we can create a sense of purpose within our teams for delighting customers or surpassing targets. We should not underestimate the motivational effects of developing autonomy, mastery and purpose with our teams. They form more potent motivators than those based on rewards and recognition alone.

Rewards and Recognition

Even with autonomy, mastery and purpose, there is still a place for rewards and recognition. In fact, they play a hygiene role. We need them but rarely notice them and only really get upset when they are absent.

Waiting for the successful completion of a project before celebrating is too little, too late. We need to show regular appreciation as we go. Appreciations do not need to be large, but they should be thoughtful. 

Recognition is often an intangible, experiential event based on behavior rather than an outcome. It is not restricted to a set time and usually unexpected by the recipient. It is intended to increase people’s feeling of appreciation. Saying a sincere “thank you” for some hard work is a great place to start.

“Ceremonies, celebrations, and rituals are not about the event. They’re about touching the hearts and souls of every employee.”
Victoria Sandvig, Charles Schwab

Rewards can be tangible, consumable items, like a gift certificate or meal voucher. They are typically given as a result of a particular achievement or reaching a specific outcome. In some environments, they might be expected when a goal is met. The purpose is to motivate towards a particular outcome and are always given with recognition too.

Creating a reward and recognition plan for a team should start with the basics of an inclusive, safe and productive work environment. Then add layers of motivation, recognition and rewards. It does not need to be like kindergarten, but it does need to be structured to avoid workplace issues and facilitate high performance.

Leading Teams is a People Skill

“You can be the world’s leading expert at PERT/CPM and Earned Value Analysis and still fail at managing projects if you don’t know how to deal with people.”
James Lewis

Project managers need to understand what motivates people to get them enthused about collaborating and actively contributing during the project’s lifetime. It is one thing to be happy to work when everything is new and exciting, but most projects face conflicts, setbacks, and obstacles. Leading a team during all its ups and downs requires a full repertoire of people skills.

Deliverables and Tools

  • Vision / Mission document
  • Charter
  • Product Box
  • Reward and Recognition Plan
  • Diversity awareness
  • Leadership styles
  • Communicate vision
  • Behavior modeling
  • Remove impediments
  • Recognize contributions
  • Influence matrix
  • Salience model
  • Challenge status quo

Related Topics

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