Naturalists say that the mother bird uses food to coax her baby from the nest and learn to fly. She stands farther and farther out on a branch with the food even though the baby bird will probably fall. If it doesn’t hurt them, falling eventually teaches them to flap their wings and return to the branch for their next meal.

It’s a repetitive process that instills the independence they need to survive on their own. This approach to learning isn’t unique to the animal kingdom: it happens in work environments, too. Often, teams are composed of members with varying levels of experience—some are seasoned, others more recent arrivals to the workforce. There’s a useful dynamic here that some project managers overlook.

The simple fact is, every project presents an opportunity for growth and for project managers to shift into a coaching role. When project managers become coaches instead of bosses, they help their teams to become more self-sufficient and learn to become more self-reliant in moving every task forward.

Coaching and teaching self-sufficiency have a powerful reciprocal effect. When a team learns to become more independent, the project manager also finds more time to think strategically. Now the manager can align what his or her team is doing with the business’ overall mission

Key Takeaways

  • Ask open-ended questions so that your team solves problems on their own
  • Change the top-down dynamic that says only the manager has the answers
  • Encourage your team to be open to new ideas and perspectives
  • Allow your team to talk freely and openly so that new ideas will flow


Learn more about our project management methodology.