Leadership is a crucial aspect of project management, but it should not be centered around the display of power and domination.
In a recent situation my coworker encountered, they were a part of a three-person project team tasked with creating an employee newsletter. Despite their team's best efforts, the director appointed a team leader based solely on seniority, disregarding the unique strengths and abilities each team member brought to the table. This approach to leadership caused tension within the team and led to a questioning of the very purpose of having a designated team leader.
However, this situation highlights the importance of finding a leadership approach that values the strengths and abilities of each team member, instead of solely relying on seniority. A more effective approach would be to empower the team to decide collectively who should take on the leadership role, and clearly define each individual's role within the team. This way, the leadership role becomes less about status and more about facilitating the team's work and ensuring everyone is aligned towards common goals.
One such approach that values team empowerment is sociocracy. Central to the principles of sociocracy are equality, consensus, and cooperation, and teams are organized in a decentralized and democratic manner.
Decisions are made through a collaborative process that involves input from all team members. By incorporating these principles, teams can create a more collaborative, inclusive, and effective work environment, where decisions are made through a democratic process and everyone has an equal voice.
Here's how Sociocracy can help create a more inclusive and decolonized workplace:
Equity: By allowing all team members to have an equal voice in decision-making, sociocracy eliminates power imbalances based on seniority, positional power, or other factors. This promotes equity and creates a more inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued and heard.
Workplace wellbeing: Sociocracy fosters a positive team dynamic by encouraging collaboration and cooperation. When everyone feels heard and valued, they are more likely to be invested in the success of the team and to work together effectively. This leads to better outcomes and a more positive work environment.
Decolonization: By reducing power imbalances, sociocracy helps to decolonize the workplace. Colonial systems often perpetuate hierarchies and systems of oppression, and sociocracy provides a framework for dismantling these systems and creating a more equitable work environment.
Trauma awareness: Sociocracy can also reflect principles of trauma awareness in several ways. For example, by involving all team members in the decision-making process, sociocracy promotes a trauma-informed approach to decision-making. This means that the needs and perspectives of everyone, including those who have experienced trauma, are taken into account. Additionally, sociocracy can foster a culture of empathy and respect, which can be especially important for individuals who have experienced trauma. By promoting equity and creating a safe and inclusive work environment, sociocracy can also help to reduce the risk of retraumatization and support healing and recovery.
Leadership plays a crucial role in the success of any project and it is imperative that it is exercised with a mindful and equitable approach. The recent experience of my coworker highlights the detrimental effects of a leadership style that is based on seniority rather than the strengths and abilities of team members. This approach not only causes tension within the team but also undermines the very purpose of having a team lead. It is a call to action for all project managers and leaders to re-evaluate their leadership style and embrace a more democratic and empowering approach.
Fortunately, there are alternative approaches to leadership that prioritize collaboration, transparency, and accountability. Sociocracy, for instance, is a holistic and inclusive leadership model that is gaining popularity and has been proven to lead to more harmonious and productive teams. To learn more about sociocracy and how it can benefit your projects, visit www.sociocracyforall.org.
Don't wait, take the first step towards a more effective and equitable leadership style today!