PMP + Host Leadership Mashup: Be a Diligent, Respectful and Caring Steward

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Project Managers who follow PMI’s guiding principle “be a diligent, respectful and caring steward” can embody this principle within the four positions outlined in Mark McKergow’s Host Leadership Model. If you are new to Host Leadership, get ready to party! This is a party analogy.

Host Leaders have 2 moves:

  • Forward (leading the way to fun)
  • Back (stepping back to reflect)

Host Leaders occupy 4 positions:

  • The kitchen (planning, reflection, seeking advice from a trusted advisor)
  • The balcony (keeping an eye on the party from a higher point of view)
  • In the spotlight (here the host leader takes center stage)
  • Among the guests (here’s where you get to be with your guests, where the action is)

Host Leaders take on 6 roles:

  • Initiator (you have a great idea for a party)
  • Inviter (who shall you invite to this shin dig?)
  • The Space Creator (physical and mental)
  • The Gatekeeper (you’re like the bodyguard at the door, checking the invite list)
  • The Connector (introducing guests to each other at the party)
  • The Co-participator (joining in the fun)

As we look at PMI’s Guiding Principles, the very first they list is “Be a diligent, caring and respectful steward.” Guiding principles are magnetic — they pull us into a continuity of action-taking, decision-making, behaviors and even affect our thinking. If I am a host leader, guided to “Be a diligent, caring and respectful steward,” what would that look like when I show up in the 4 positions?

Great question! Here are our thoughts…

1. In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen: In this position, managers can be diligent stewards by planning and reflecting on their actions and decisions. They can also seek advice from trusted mentors to ensure that they are making the best decisions for the team and the organization.

By being respectful and caring in their approach, they can create a safe space for team members to share their ideas and concerns. Let’s look at many aspects of planning for a safe and thriving (growing and improving) “space,” for example: the physical/biological space, the social space, the psychological space, and the spiritual space.

2. On the Balcony

The Balcony: When leaders take to the “balcony,” they can gain a broader perspective on what is happening within their team, on their project, or within their organization. This allows them to see patterns, dynamics, and interactions that may be difficult to detect when they are actively involved in day-to-day operations.

In this position, the host leader can observe the team from a higher perspective and ensure that they are staying on track and working towards their goals. By being diligent, managers can identify areas of improvement and take action to address them. By being respectful and caring, managers can ensure that team members feel heard and valued, even from a distance. The leader can plan to come off the balcony at certain key points. The leader can also be on the balcony but be ready to swoop down as applicable. Project Managers can empower team members by providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and support to do their job effectively, setting clear bounds for decision-making and action-taking authority, and adjusting these bounds as appropriate. In this way, the manager can go to the balcony to observe from a higher level, trusting that the team will escalate as appropriate should something exceed their scope of control.

3. In the Spotlight

In the Spotlight: In this position, managers are center stage. Being in the spotlight refers to the position of taking charge and leading a group or team towards a specific goal or objective. It is a position of visible leadership, where the leader sets the tone, makes decisions, and takes responsibility for the outcomes. Being in the spotlight also involves creating a sense of excitement and motivation among team members, inspiring them to perform at their best. Leaders in the spotlight should also be mindful of their communication and ensure that it is clear and concise, allowing team members to understand their expectations and the overall vision for the project or initiative.

Host leaders can lead by example and inspire the team to achieve their goals. By being diligent in their work and setting high standards, managers can encourage team members to do the same. By being respectful and caring, managers can create a positive work environment that fosters collaboration and growth. According to PMI, project managers can model good behaviors by doing the following:

Project managers should lead by example and model the behavior they want to see in their team. While in the spotlight, you can be a diligent and caring steward by:

Communicating effectively — Project managers should communicate clearly and effectively with their team and stakeholders, and do so in a timely and proactive manner.

Building trust — Project managers should build trust with their team by being honest, transparent, consistent, and by demonstrating integrity in their actions.

Encouraging collaboration — Project managers should encourage collaboration and teamwork among their team members.

Fostering a positive work environment — Project managers should create a positive work environment where team members feel valued and respected.

Demonstrating accountability — Project managers should hold themselves accountable for their actions and decisions.

By modeling these behaviors, project managers can set a positive example for their team and help create a culture of excellence and success.

4. Among the Guests

Among the Guests: In this position, managers can work alongside the team to achieve their goals. By being diligent in their work and providing guidance and support, managers can help team members reach their full potential. By being respectful and caring, managers can build strong relationships with team members and create a sense of community and belonging within the team.

Leaders can encourage team members to engage in self-reflection by asking questions that promote self-awareness, such as “What did you learn from this experience?” or “What could you have done differently?”

Leaders can foster a sense of community by encouraging team members to participate in team-building activities, such as social events or volunteer activities, that promote collaboration and teamwork. As a leader, also be sure to model inclusive behavior and create a culture of respect and inclusion within the team.

In addition to the four rooms, McKergow’s Host Leadership model also includes six roles that host leaders can adopt. Here are some ways that managers who follow the guiding principle of “be a diligent, respectful and caring steward” can integrate these roles…

1. The Initiator

The Initiator: As an initiator, managers can act as stewards of the idea generation process by creating an environment that encourages creativity and innovation. They can be respectful of everyone’s ideas and diligently work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

2. The Inviter

The Inviter: As an inviter, managers can act as stewards of the relationship-building process by creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. They can be respectful of everyone’s differences and diligently work to ensure that everyone feels valued and included.

The “Similar to Me” effect refers to the tendency for individuals to prefer working with people who are similar to them in some way. This can lead to exclusion of those who do not fit the mold, and can limit diversity and creativity within the team. To prevent this, PMI suggests many strategies, including coming up with a strategy to encourage diversity: Actively seek out and welcome team members with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills.

3. The Space Creator

The Space Creator: As a space creator, managers can act as stewards of the physical environment by creating a space that is safe, comfortable, and conducive to productivity. They can be respectful of everyone’s needs and diligently work to ensure that everyone has what they need to succeed. As you might gather from reading the planning / in the kitchen position considerations earlier in this post, you seek to be a diligent, caring, and respectful steward of many spaces.

4. The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper: the gatekeeper is the person who controls access to the “party.” They are responsible for ensuring that only the right people and resources enter inside. They may have the power to grant or deny access to information, people, and other resources. The gatekeeper position is important because it can have a significant impact on the success of the project. A gatekeeper who is too restrictive can limit the organization’s ability to innovate and grow, while a gatekeeper who is too permissive can expose the project to unnecessary risk. The key to effective gatekeeping is to strike the right balance between security and openness, and to be responsive to the needs of the organization and its stakeholders. To paraphrase PMI’s Choose your WOW Handbook:

Have guardrails in place with as much flexibility and freedom in between.

As a gatekeeper, managers can act as stewards of the decision-making process by ensuring that everyone applicable has the information they need to make informed decisions. They can be respectful of everyone’s opinions and diligently work to ensure that everyone’s voice is (all applicable value-perspectives are) heard.

5. The Connector

The Connector: As a connector, managers can act as stewards of the collaboration process by creating connections between people and teams. They can be respectful of everyone’s strengths and diligently work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to collaborate and share their expertise. Emphasize the value of different perspectives and backgrounds, and create an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued. Provide training and education on topics such as unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, and cultural awareness to help team members understand and appreciate differences.

6. The Co-Creator

The Co-Creator: As a co-creator, managers can act as stewards of the outcome creation process by working collaboratively with others to achieve a common goal. They can be respectful of everyone’s contributions and perspectives, helping to ensure the creation of shared goals and a sense of purpose that transcends individual differences and unites the team around a common mission.

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