Okay, so I’ll admit to being a bit flippant with the headline here, but the fact is that at Sea to Sky we deal with big, complicated projects that take a lot of careful planning. We’ve had to become very good at doing it. Getting control of competing priorities, managing workload and exceeding clients’ expectations can be tough and there’s no getting away from the need to work exceptionally hard. But there are a few things I’ve learned over the years about leadership, teamwork and project management that I think are worth sharing.
First up: leadership (that old chestnut). You need to have good leadership to ensure the efficiency, effectiveness and overall success of any major project. There are thousands of books published about this each year. If you have a spare lifetime you could read them. If not, here’s my cheat sheet on the subject. Good leaders always:
- Take responsibility;
- Create motivational environments;
- Develop loyal team members;
- Treat people as valued resources;
- Set goals together with their team;
- Ask questions; and
- Expect accountability and results.
As I said, there’s a dizzying amount of material out there about how to be a good leader, but what about how to be a good team member? Leaders never achieve anything on their own and it stands to reason that not everybody can be a leader in the first place. I think it’s important to understand the value of good team members in any project. It’s a subject that is often overlooked. At Sea to Sky we rely on team members who participate proactively, propose and negotiate goals, and embrace personal responsibility. None of what we achieve here would happen without our team of dedicated professionals and I’m so grateful for their work.
Managing that work effectively is also essential. Our approach at Sea to Sky is to identify the most important things to be done, prioritize them, incorporate them into a plan and be committed to that plan.
There’s also a neat little metaphor that is useful here. If you have a jar that represents your total amount of time and resources, some rocks that represent the major tasks in front of you, and some sand that represents the smaller things that also need to get done, what do you put in the jar first? The answer, of course, is the rocks. If you throw in the sand first you might not have room for them. But if you put in the rocks first you can then pour in the sand around them and use up all space in the jar without missing out on anything important.
So, to summarize my message about how to organize your work and succeed at everything: be a good leader, or if you’re not a leader, be a good team member (which is just as important), and make a conscious effort to prioritize your work effectively. And you don’t even need a jar. Or rocks. Or any sand.