You know the person or co-worker. That individual who complains more or shows more anger and aggression or is louder or whines more than the others around you or in the company or department. Is this person a leader? People seem to comply with their wants, needs and demands. Co-workers and employees of this person aren't pushing back or refusing to do the work this individual has bestowed upon them.
So is this person a good leader because people seem to be following him? Does he have their respect? Does he have true authority over them? Or are they complying with his demands because it's simply the easier route to take? Are they going along with what he wants because no one wants to poke the bear? It seems that what we have here is the difference between leading a group of like-minded professionals and a group of people going along with someone simply because they don't want to deal with that person and the behavior that will come about if they don't comply.
What are some key characteristics of being a true leader rather than just being loud? Here's my list of top characteristics the true leader should bring to the table.
1. Lead by example. Quiet, proactive leadership is far better for you, your project team and your project customer than making a lot of noise. The quiet leader will gain and retain respect faster. Deep down, people don't really admire the noisy person and they certainly don't create a cohesive working environment. They respect the leader who says what he is going to do and then follows through on that intent. Period.
2. Subject matter expert. There are those out there who say they know what they are doing and then there are those who actually do. Brings to mind some PM's I've known who I've watched hide behind their PMP certification and then can't figure out how to logically go from step to step and phase to phase on a project that doesn't exactly fit the mold. It's nice to know the terminology, but you also need to know how to execute. That's what the project sponsor really wants.
3. Respected and connected in the organization. The project manager who is respected and connected in the organization will have a much easier time succeeding on the project than the noisy guy who has to reach out to others all the time to get what he needs in terms of project answers, accounting details of his project, etc. People will likely grudgingly comply, but the real leader will get willing compliance with half the energy and time. And he will get what he needs and asks for the first time.
4. Honest/high integrity. This one harks back to doing what you say you will do...follow through. Be above board. Be beyond reproach. Treat others how you want to be treated. Expect a following, but give them a reason to follow. Quiet, honest leadership with no one ever questioning your real values or motives. Live and lead by example. That's how you win.
Summary / call for input
I'm sure we've all worked with that individual who seems to get their way and has individuals doing things for them when you wonder why or even how they got to be in that position of authority. Look closely. Is it authority and respect they are getting or just resigned compliance? One works and will take them far in an organization. The other works today and will eventually see them exposed for the tired intrusion that they are.
How about our readers? Have you seen this person? Do you sit near one? What differences do you see between this behavior and the true project leader?
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