Since the last blog post I took the plunge and have now launched Project Connect! Whilst not a physically difficult thing to do (a bit of thinking, a short PowerPoint presentation and a carefully constructed email) I found it surprisingly challenging for reasons that, on reflection, gave me insight into my leadership ability and style.
To-date I can draw 4 important personal leadership from the experience:
1. Have courage. I’m full of energy and motivation… until someone doesn’t like my idea, or even doesn’t like my idea as much as me. Without question my biggest blockage to launching Project Connect was my fear of failure. Of putting something very personal out there that could fail. I knew that if I couldn’t overcome this one small but emotionally significant hurdle I would never be the leader I want to be.
2. Manage passion. I’m passionate about my work. I’m naturally an emotional and energetic person. This often gets me far. But I can see how this can also work against me. I think it feeds into 1. above. I get too emotionally attached to my ideas and can take feedback and the reaction of others too personally.
3. Listen. Obvious maybe. But something I needed to remind myself to do. Good ideas come from all quarters. From people above and below; from those who know the subject matter to those who offer a completely different perspective. When I let go of the attachment to ‘my ideas’ I loved the way that each suggestion from someone else strengthened an idea or took it into unexpected directions.
4. Get savvy. My weak spot has always been the small p politics. I can be naively un-strategic in this sense and try to rely solely on technical competence and positive energy. However, doing 3. above opened me up to some great advice on how I could leverage the support of my Director in the project.
So onto the practical. I’ve launched the project and got a fairly good response. (After a week just under half the 100 strong team confirmed that they’re keen to engage – from Peterborough to Shanghai). I’m now identifying ‘champions’ to help work out the cross-country logistics. I have a slot at our team away-day in mid-September where I hope to stand proud and update everyone on progress; what’s working, what’s not and how we can all move the idea forward together.