‘This doesn’t feel too good’, I thought as the plane felt like it was dropping out of the sky. I started drafting this blog whilst on a flight from Gatwick to Bordeaux. Driving down the motorway was like driving through a fast flowing stream, and at times many rivers, but taking off from Gatwick was something else!
To take my mind off of the turbulence, I turn my attention to the purpose of my business trip – the kick-off project meeting for LEXSHA. LEXSHA is our latest European Development of Innovation project. The project is about helping very small enterprises to grow by Learning EXploring and SHAring their experiences and insights.
Like all projects, project team members including me are excited, hopeful, but a little apprehensive about what lies ahead. The project team is being led by Amélie from Bordeaux University and she has demonstrated excellent project leadership so far. So what has Amélie done so far?
Firstly, she consulted with each of the stakeholders during the development of the project proposal. Secondly, she has provided clear, decisive direction and leadership during the initial set up of the project. She has communicated with each project partner, both individually and as a whole team. She has delegated specific tasks to each of us and chased us when a deadline was in danger of being missed. Thirdly, she has provided feedback and requested modifications in line with her expectations.
I guess I am grateful to Amélie for the detailed preparation that she has undertaken. I have all of the project papers I need. I have maps and directions to the meeting venue; she has arranged to meet the project team in the hotel foyer; I have key contact numbers; I have instructions on how to connect to the university’s WiFi; I have today’s agenda.
I sitting in my hotel room, reviewing the agenda and I have prepared my inputs as requested. Now, my thoughts turn to how effectively Amélie will be in leading the meeting. Like all effective project managers, I believe she will set out a vision for the project, clarify the project plan, involve us in deciding how we will implement the plan and send as away with a clear plan of action.
I will find the first meeting very interesting. I’m interested in the different characters that will be at the meeting, how we all work together, given our different national cultures – there will be somebody from Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Lithuania, Greece, the Netherlands and of course France.
My mind returns to the storms that we are having in the UK and I wonder how Amélie will manage the project team as we come together and begin the process of learning how to work together. So far, Amélie has managed the forming stage of Tuckman’s model by providing clear leadership and direction. The question in my mind now is how effectively will our project leader manage the next stage of our team development – the storming stage. My hope is that our kick-off meeting is a lot less stormy than my flight to Bordeaux.