Welcome to the new series of posts for Project DPro+ members on the subject of Leadership.
As the Covid-19 crisis has developed, Leadership has been championed as one of the key responses for Project Managers and development sector professionals alike.
In this series of articles, we will consider what it means to be a manager compared to the significance of being a leader, look at some key leadership traits, and think about leadership in adversity, before honing in on leadership in the Project Management discipline.
We’ll begin with a look at leadership lessons gained during the Covid-19 crisis. These lessons were discussed by Kanni Wignaraja on the UNDP website. The six lessons Wignaraja identifies are:
Being optimistic. Despite the great challenges and immense negativity surrounding our lives in the last year, a key aspect of leadership during the Covid-19 crisis has been to retain hope and positive thinking while offering solutions and strategies going forward.
Being agile to changing messages and context. In times of crisis, leaders must continue to make decisions even though the landscape is continually evolving and new information coming to light can make recent decision-making processes obsolete. We must be aware of this, and be agile enough to respond to our context as it develops.
Making tough choices quickly. Embracing change, however tough those changes may be, is an inherent part of coping with crises such as Covid-19. When it becomes apparent that tough decisions are required, we need to be decisive and move on.
Protecting people. Whatever the decisions that must be taken, we must make sure to act in a way which is consistent with our values and principles. Protecting people’s dignities and rights is important to the integrity of leaders, and must often now be done online.
Purpose over plan. While we may have to change our plans due to emerging realities and information, teams will remain cohesive if they stick to their overall purpose.
Remembering that people are human. The mental health toll wreaked by the Covid-19 crisis is yet to be fully understood. The final leadership lesson is to recognize that everyone, no matter who they are, has been living with a particular set of stresses and strains over the last twelve months. We may not be able to see or appreciate what people have been going through, but those pressures will almost certainly be there.
In the next article, we’ll take a step back to consider how the roles of leader and manager differ.