Stepping Up and Stepping Back

As a project leader, you must find the right time to step up, and when you should be stepping back.

Stepping Back

When you are leading or sponsoring a project, the best thing that you can do is step back to let people be responsible for their own work. Your job is to do a good job selecting people able to do the work that will make the change you seek. Someone who is ready to grow and learn should be given the objectives and allowed to find their way up the mountain. A person who has oversold themselves, or doesn’t fit the assigned role should be held accountable for the work with which they are charged. You shouldn’t sugar-coat the facts when someone isn’t meeting the project goals, but you should certainly help them to find their way to a place where they fit better (within or outside of the project.)

Stepping Up

The other side of the coin is that there are times that you need to step up as a leader. It might be jumping in to do training when someone is struggling. Or you might have to do a piece of work to get someone started. You may end up doing end-user testing to give someone a break who has been staring at the project for too long. It may even be that you simply have to be ready and available uncomfortable hours so that people know that they have someone to call if things don’t go well. Stepping up means that you put something more into the game than just your thoughts and concepts. Stepping up means that you stand beside your team. Arm-in-arm, you help each other up the mountain.

As a leader, there are times when you should step back, and other times when you should step up. The art of leadership to know what is needed right now.