Principle 1: Build Vision
Sharing a common vision and goals and having the same understanding about tracking the progress towards this vision is one of the key factors in the success of a project and team.
A project vision sets the overall picture of your project. Project objectives qualify this vision, so make it specific. Both project vision and project objectives are crucial for project success. Together they set the direction and tone of your project journey. They complement each other. The vision inspires your journey and it defines the purpose of your project.
The key to building vision is that people need to be able to relate to the vision in their daily activities. Give them the chance to identify themselves with the vision. Involve them in building this vision and participate in making it real. This helps build rapport and the necessary buy-in from those people, to realize the project. Make them fans of the vision. Let it constitute their motivation and passion. Let them rave about it.
The story of a visitor who was curious about a construction site illustrates the power of a common project vision. This visitor approached a group of workers to find out more about the construction. The first worker replied that he was a bricklayer. The second worker told him that he was building a wall. Then he asked a third worker. This one explained that he and the other people in his team were building a cathedral. The interesting thing was that each worker was actually doing the same activity. Yet the motivations and their attitude differed a great deal. The third worker knew what he was devoting his time and effort to something big. His task may have been to build a wall but it was the project vision of building a cathedral that enticed him.
A project vision without project objectives may give you an idea of the direction, but you may never get close enough to the destination to produce tangible results at a certain time. On the other hand, project objectives without a vision may describe the desired end result and time frame, but they cannot inspire the necessary enthusiasm in your team to drive the project to success. They do not form an underlying meaning for the work.
As a project leader, you must make sure that both project vision and project objectives are in place. Project leaders do not start a project without a project vision and objectives. If you want to be or become a project leader, you either build vision and project objectives or make sure that both are in place. They must be crystal clear and mutually understood by every single person actively involved in the project. This is the meaning of the first leadership principle.
Start with a unified vision and know where you stand before and during your project. Know your environment, know your potential, and identify your limits and overcome them. Build and involve your team and nurture effective collaboration across the board. This brings us to the second leadership principle: nurture collaboration.