Practice Waterfall Methodology in Your Leadership Style

A illustration of a team of individuals working together on a project, utilizing charts and timelines to ensure seamless progress and achieve successful completion. There are three sections that include project management with a calendar and charts, workflow with additional charts, and leadership with more charts and a trophy.

If you’re looking to shake up your leadership style, practicing principles from the waterfall project management methodology may be a great place to start.

The waterfall project management methodology takes a hands-off approach that requires communication, teamwork, and trust. Many of these attributes can be adapted to suit your leadership style. Practice these principles to expand your waterfall leadership capabilities.

How the Waterfall Framework Relates to Leadership

When utilizing the waterfall methodology in project management, each step of the process must be determined at the beginning of the project. These phases are then assigned to the corresponding teams and completed in a linear order; the next phase can’t commence until the previous phase is done. This style also offers low flexibility, all of which can extend the timeline.

Common threads of this process can be applied to leadership by prioritizing:

  • Teamwork – While the waterfall methodology doesn’t necessarily lend itself to collaboration, teamwork is essential to meeting the end goal. Each person has a role to play, and the end goal isn’t achieved unless everyone succeeds.
  • Communication – No task is an island; each relies on another, so it is vital for the team to communicate the status of their assignments, challenges, and if the deadline can be met.  
  • Trust – For teams to succeed, they need to be trusted by their leader and fellow team members. Trust and autonomy allow employees to work in the ways best suited for them, and foster breakthroughs, decision making, and creating a productive and healthy work environment.
  • Decision Making – Pivoting when applying waterfall methodology isn’t impossible, but it is more difficult than pivoting while practicing agile leadership. The waterfall framework requires all phases, from the start to achieving the end goal, to be determined at the beginning. A level of decisiveness to provide direction with confidence and to limit the need to shift direction later is essential.

Whether you want to try a different leadership style or give your team more autonomy with a hands-off approach, the waterfall methodology in leadership may be the ticket.

Have you used the waterfall methodology in your approach to leadership? Share your experiences in the comments!

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