Principle 4: Cultivate Learning
As humans we all make mistakes. Effective leaders encourage their teams to explore new avenues and to make mistakes and learn from them. An effective leader builds in sufficient time for the team to learn, create, and innovate.
As project leader, you serve as partner and coach for learning and information sharing. You facilitate learning. You are not the sole source of information. Instead, create a learning environment in your team. Set the expectation that you want everyone in your team to join and support you in cultivating learning for the purpose of the project.
Learning is not a one-time activity, say, in the form of formal training prior or at the beginning of your project. It is ongoing and should become a daily routine in your team. Establish regular sessions with your team where you review past performance, share information about planned accomplishments, address and resolve impediments together. Invite external reviews. Outside views offer different perspectives, fresh and unspoiled perspectives. If they aim to help the team identify formerly unknown risks and issues and overcome them, external project reviews can be a great learning opportunity.
When you or your team make mistakes, learn from them. Correct your shortcomings, improve your performance, and continue to work toward accomplishing the project vision. Cultivate learning from the beginning of your project. It significantly increases the speed at which your team can perform and sustain performance throughout and thus secure delivery.
Create room for your team members to be creative, to try something new, share their ideas, and learn from each other. Plan in sufficient time for your team to think outside the box, beyond the known path traveled, and to find new avenues to reach the goals of the projects. Empower your team to perform, make mistakes, learn, and innovate. This helps reduce uncertainty as information flows more freely. Team members are not afraid of making mistakes. They see mistakes as learning opportunities and they help each other solve problems. A corollary: If you want performance to yield the desired results you have to cultivate learning. There cannot be lasting performance without learning, and there cannot be results without performance.