Pull don’t push to motivate your project team

In modern software development you want to have a self-organized team which works self-reliant and autonomously to reach the given goals. But of course a self-organized team does also need leadership. As a good team leader you have to respect this autonomy of your team and adapt your leading procedure. I think the most important point is the way you guide your team to the goal.

You have two main possibilities to reach the goal together with your team. You may walk behind your team members and always push them to the right direction. Or you may walk in front of them and if they trust and respect you as a leader they will follow you. Based on this example it is easy to see which way of leadership the team prefers. As soon as you start to push them and therefore limit their own autonomy, you will increasingly encountering resistance.

So your basic leading principle should be: Pull don’t push!

How to pull

Of course you now may ask: “How can I pull my team into the right direction?”

Unfortunately there isn’t an easy three step guideline to reach this goal. You cannot simply create a “Done” column in your task board and celebrate each finished task to create this goal-driven acting. It is also not sufficient to do a review every few weeks. Your team will only develop a real and positive desire to achieve the project objectives if there is someone who really wants and respects the work they do.

If you want to have an efficient and self-organized team, then have a real interest in their work.

Normally a project team will not work harder or with more motivation than the project leader. Therefore, expect the team no longer than you do with the money. So, don’t expect a team performance and motivation higher than your own. If you work hard, enthusiastic and motivated to reach the project goals, your team will follow you.


As a good project leader you have to pull your team into the right direction. Go ahead to lead them by example. Show a real interest for the developed product and your team. You can compare it with a builder who will look every day to its construction. You should do it in the same way and work together with your team on every day, give them honest and sincere feedback and show real respect for their work.


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