Leading Exceptional Project Experiences

""We trusted and respected each other, not in a way we wanted to cover up or overly protect, but in a way that we drove each other to better performance and quality as we did not want to let the team (family) down. This is a very similar to the environment I try to create for my own children at home. There must be trust and respect (both ways), and to do this you need direction (goals) and boundaries (rules) (structure), but also the knowledge that the team (family) has your back no matter what, yes you can fail, but you did try and the team did support you.”" — Matthew Barnard, Software Engineer, BBD South Africa

In my last newsletter I asked the question "What is at the core of the best project experiences?" Thank you for all the answers I received. It is delightful to know that many people have had great project experiences. Special thanks to Matthew whose quote wrote at least half of this newsletter!

Here are five things that exceptional leaders can do to create great project experiences.

  1. Provide a clear, great purpose. Exceptional leaders will always be looking to find, nay, looking to create projects that have a clear, great purpose. For the best project experience the project must be meaningful to the team, to the organization, and to the those that will experience the results of the project.
  2. Challenge the team to be great. The most memorable project experiences are those that were near-impossibly hard. Creating great teams starts with challenging those teams to be great. Give them fantastical difficult goals. Drive them to create brilliant ways to achieve those goals.
  3. Trust the team to rise to the challenge. In other words, give them the challenge and then give the opportunity and support to figure things out, to rise to the challenge.
  4. Lead with an infectious passion for doing great work. Great project experiences I have had and talked to others about all share this common thread. No one on the team tolerated shoddy work. Great projects demanded high quality results.
  5. Celebrate results in meaningful ways. The great experiences had leaders that ensured that results were celebrated much more than sweat.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT