Project Management

There Is No Shortage of Leaders

You can give a man a fish, and it will feed him for a day. You can teach a man to fish, but it still won’t empower him. According to Pawel Brodzinski in his blog on software project management, leadership is not a thing to be handed out like cod fillets. Leadership is a natural and emergent process that is either allowed to happen, or it isn’t.

Moving Roadblocks

What Brodzinski means is that a PM cannot empower, cannot simply will a person to act in their own best interest. Empowerment must be intrinsic. It must come from within. The role of management, as he sees it, is to remove the limitations and constraints that block team members from reaching their leadership potential. Encouragement helps too.

It’s a Process

Brodzinski breaks down the empowerment concept into three parts. First there is the process. What is meant here by process is the dynamic power structure of rules and constraints that surrounds the employee:

…structures and rules define how much potentially is possible in terms of catalyzing leadership. It doesn’t automatically mean that fairly flat hierarchy and few rules is enough to see emergence of leadership throughout a company.

It’s an Environment

A process that contains rules and constraints is not just a system of passive barriers. It informs the organizational culture–the values, norms, beliefs, and principles that constitute the work environment in which the employee functions. This culture is plastic, in that it reverts to a status quo after being altered by external forces.

No, it’s a Process-Environment!

To create an environment that allows the emergence of good leaders, one must change and remake organizational processes – and maintain those new processes. Brodzinski applies a litmus test of sorts: Do the employees find it easier to ask for forgiveness, or to get permission. If the latter is true, it means there still hasn’t been a change that will enable the emergence of great leaders.

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