Isn’t it always about people? The human element is not the one that makes projects tick but the qualities in the humans is what makes it click. Leading, requesting, ordering, cajoling, collaborating are only some of the ways to get it moving.
How about spending may be willing to be a real leader rather than running a project like an Army General. Not saying that doesn’t work. In a perverse way I have had some really great leaders who by virtue of running their teams like a platoon delivered. However I have better memories of working for leaders who collaborated and leaned on their experts to come up with solutions that worked more effectively.
Leadership is not something you inherit by virtue of being a senior person in the organization. These are people who are not demigods nor are they untouchable legends; these are people in flesh and blood that just inspire you in several ways. Inspiration is not something you can touch, its that euphoric feeling of wanting to be part of the team, having that inherent desire to always stay ahead, cognizant and secure in the knowledge that what you analyze, what you recommend is going to be paid attention to. So you are not really part of a count but an integral part of the decision making process. That is the kind of leader that will go far. Not the entitlement, not being gray haired, not being a favorite of someone’s.
Then the teams- How about a working in a team that feels like you are in a microcosm of the United Nations! Every culture brings something to the party. Its that pot luck of ideas and concepts; something every member brings to the table. When team members get to be comfortable in a social setting, political correctness seems like a term from the Martian dictionary. We have all been part of sessions where we get told to respect other cultures; I am not even sure if I need to make any special efforts to do that. A person is a person and if they are able to gel into this polyglot team they are obviously comfortable. It is however a highly interesting concept when team members freely exchange nuances about their culture and its this process that makes the team pull their oars in the same direction. Believe it not, speaking to a non Westerner slowly and loudly still does not work. What works is empowerment and space to perform , where linguistic abilities do not matter.
Then the leader has that uncanny ability to bring out the best out of everyone, no exceptions. I have recently come off working in a team that would be classified not just as multi cultural but truly world class. So what makes me say so? The ability of that team to bring out the best out of each other, the obvious lack of king sized egos backed up by a leadership model that stands unparalleled. A leader who did not have to be the “Know all” but a leader who had the ability to be a supporter in the most adverse situations and yet had the humility to lean on their team to get what they needed to make critical decisions.
And what else? Leaders finding time to deal with their team members as humans, not subordinates. It may be a cliche, but true good leaders are a rarity and I am not even mentioning visionaries.