What kind of leader do you want to be or what kind of leader are you? Are you looking for that corner office where you can where you can wear your suit all day and every now and then venture back out to the real world? Or are you that out-of-the-ordinary leader? Maybe you are just a little bit of both? We have all heard the word about being a servant leader, being a leader that others trust and will follow, that there are different leadership types and personalities, but what does all that really mean? What about the human side of the leader? Some of my best times as a leader is when we were spending time doing nothing but appreciating our teams, and some of the most rewarding are those that I continue to mentor today (when they need me), even though we do not work together anymore.
I remember meeting a new CIO one day. Usually everyone would try to make a good impression with their best business attire. Well, for me that day just was not meant to be. That was the day that we had a St Patrick’s Day celebration and lunch for employees and there was some fun to be had. Now, do not get me wrong, I am a professional, but I also believe there are times where the suit should just be put to the side. Dressed in jeans, Shamrock antennas, and a pink tutu, I walked up to the CIO and apologized as I said, “I realize this is not the best way to be meeting the new CIO” and his response was that he thought it was.
One would think that that was a once-in-a-lifetime meeting, but no, not for me. There was another time when we hired a Mariachi band for Cinco de Mayo, so we had food catered in, bought fake stick-on mustaches, and even sombreros for enjoy the day and appreciate the employees. At least for this one, the CIO was already used to this behavior from us as leaders.
Did I mention the day I took a whipped cream pie in the face? Ok, I admit I started it by first pledging some money to put a pie in my leader’s face, but she did not have to outbid me just to return the favor, did she? And did I mention by the time it was my turn they ran out of plastic covers to at least shield my clothes from the whipped cream…well I did smell “sweet” for a couple of hours anyway.
Other things we did was have a football tailgate one year in September where we all brought in tailgate-type foods and had a nice afternoon outside for our employees. With a few handmade games, there was fun for all. At other times it may have just been a simple lunch but we always tried to make sure that there was some kind of appreciation going on for the employees.
Did I mention that I am a professional? The reason I share these experiences with you is they were some of my most rewarding days as a leader. I have spent my time in meetings, speaking at conferences, sharing knowledge through PMforTODAY, furthering my education, and found that I am not intimidated by titles but sometimes wish that these leaders that I look up to could loosen their shoes a little bit on some days. Some leaders out there might be reading this right now and thinking that I am not a professional. I assure you that I realize there is a time and a place for everything…even a little fun.
Above all else, a leader should not set themselves completely apart from their teams, as their teams will be either their success, or their downfall. We all know that jobs in some areas are easy to come by where in other areas can be hard to come by, but that does not mean we should treat our teams as just workers but start thinking of them as an extended family. After all, we spend more time at work than at home. For me, I prefer to be the leader that people that have worked with me or for me, would follow me to other positions; one that is respected for skills and abilities as well as humility and the ability to show appreciation to those that truly are down in the trenches. So, back to the first question: What kind of leader do you want to be or are you? Are you the kind of leader that can truly just have fun with your teams, or are you sitting by the sidelines watching?
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Author, Speaker, Project / Program / PMO Thought Leader
Over 20 years project management experience with a passion for helping organizations grow their PMO, their project managers, and their teams. My passion has taken me to the pursuit of a Doctor of Education, as I enjoy seeing the proverbial light bulb come on. I am a believer in continuous growth and improvement, and believe that an organizations culture and environment is what drives the growth of PMOs and all areas, and not the other way around.