Only when you have created balance in your steering group and when there is no doubt about roles and division of responsibilities, can you start to work with the steering group’s leader characteristics.
As a leader you need to be a visionary, you need to be able to communicate your visions and the way to achieve them. “My claim is that the steering group’s leader characteristics are crucial to whether or not a project will succeed…” – Jack Wrona, IDA.
Excitement and enthusiasm for the project is also necessary, in order to motivate the remaining people about the shared journey the steering group is about to go on. Above everything, a leader needs to be able to create trust within an organization. What makes it especially difficult to be a member of a steering group, is that a project is a temporary organization, which typically lasts 6 months to a year.
Therefore, this creates a different challenge, when you as a steering group has to enter a new organization and create trust and a team that can perform and finish the task relatively quickly.
Many projects are behind schedule from the beginning
There is usually a deadline, and it is rare to have an opportunity to sit down, make a plan and decide your final deadline for yourself. This results in the leader and team being under pressure from the beginning. It is therefore not uncommon to think that the work has to get started as soon as possible. However, this often results in the leader and team not having time to build trust and become familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
A lack of trust in the steering group often causes members to be critical of each other’s competencies. Then, they do not deliver on time, because the steering group’s members work against each other as a result of frustrations or lacking familiarity with one another.
Most steering groups are not teams
Studies show that teams that take time getting to know each other, and create trust at the beginning of the project, despite deadlines and a packed schedule, achieve better results than those who do not prioritize it.
Another factor that is just as important as trust, is evaluation and learning. Often, the leader also has a management job, meaning that the steering group is a side job, which is rarely a top priority.
This is exactly why the steering group should evaluate itself at regular intervals. They should evaluate how they are doing individually, how the cooperation is going and, most importantly, if there is anything they need to do differently.
“We tried to convince both the project manager and the remaining steering group members, that the project manager should evaluate the steering group members and their leadership competencies as part of the evaluation. This was not an easy sell by any means, but we managed to have some good conversations about it, which goes a long way”, states Janick Wrona, IDA.
In order to make progress, it is necessary to assess the effect of the work you do. This argument can therefore be a good approach, when you as a leader want to convince your remaining steering group members, that everyone should take part in the evaluation, when your common goal is to succeed as a team.