True to your Word

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Disappointed with people? Yes sure I think all of us have experienced some sort of disappointment with others specifically when they break promises that we have been counting on. Broken promises leads to questions around character and ultimately a lack of trust. So we end up labelling people whether it is a conscious or unconscious act and that label is difficult to remove ones stapled to the forehead of an unsuspecting recipient. It influences our lives and our relationships directly and sometimes in unexpected ways.

Take the following scenario: You are sitting in a Steering Committee meeting and the Executive sponsor is requesting a specific report from you. Confidently you state that the team would have it done by Monday. Monday comes and goes and no report. Your first reaction, that I will call denial might be that the Executive Sponsor would have forgotten about it, so he would not have noticed that we are late. The second reaction I call the looking for a loop hole, so Monday is still 24h00 right? Thirdly, blame shifting as an option where we call our team to trial.  Alternatively we can stand in the gap and state that we have underestimated the amount of work and it is going to take longer than anticipated. Whatever your decision or approach does not take away the fact that you made a promise that you did not keep. If you have a Sponsor that believes in giving people the benefit of the doubt, you might not get the label immediately, but by the second and third time, none of what you say would ever be taken seriously.

Agreed, we get into situations where we have to make a judgement call and we need to make a calculated promise that has a certain level of risk associated with it. However I have seen too many project managers who takes making promises lightly without consideration to their own, their teams and their organisations reputation. So next time before you make a commitment, be sure to consider your words and the risk associated and rather voice a disclaimer than be the recipient of a label.

Decisions – What they tell about you!

At so many times we hit a cross road in our lives. A choice we need to make, or an important decisions that can alter the course of our future. Sometimes it is not as earth shattering in our opinion and consider as small or easy choices we make. But whether big or small, every choice has a trade-off. Now a trade-off is normally seen as the opportunity costs of a decision. So it relates to the choice you did NOT make, the options you did NOT choose or the opportunity you missed because you did not make such or such a choice. Very little of us reachoiceslly think about the trade-offs in the decisions we make, and if we do, they normally relate to only the big decisions and the direct implications of our choices. There are however plenty of indirect trade-offs’ to our decisions that affect our relationships with others and will follow us unknowingly.

A decision made provide clues to who you are, what your values/priorities are, what is at the core of your character and what you are willing to sacrifice. It provides a glimpse into the unspoken world of individuals and either lead to a confirmation or a changed view of character. It sheds the light on areas that we might not feel so proud of, or alternatively areas that we need to exploit more often. Whether positive or negative, the trade-offs normally have a ripple effect socially that is often ignored.

Does this now imply we need to be afraid to making a choice? No, it just means that when you choose, know that the choice you made gave a message to those around you and will be an unspoken witness to the person you really are. Therefore choose wisely.

Uncomplicated Leadership

As project managers we are called not only to manage the scope, costs, quality and various other knowledge areas prescribed by so many PM methodologies, but also called to lead. Leadership can be one of those concepts that we work hard at achieving but sometimes totally miss the mark on. Understanding leadership related to really understanding not only the dictionary version of the word leadership, but also what it aims to achieve. According to John Maxwell, leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. It relates to creating and facilitating movement from where we are to where we need to be. This is not achieved through a position being held, or through instilling fear in those that need to move, but by creating a compelling desire to move. And if the leader has that desire, the rest of his team can have it to.

The theme song of the movie Madagascar is so contagious. I caught myself singing and tapping to “I like to move it move it, I like to move it” phrase every time it plays. The energy and passion created around the song will get everybody going.  King Julian managed to get everybody shaking and dancing to his tune even the new comers.

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This is a simple illustration, but I do believe that leadership is not so complicated. It requires a solid character entrenched with integrity. It requires enough passion and energy and good articulation of the vision to influence the team towards developing the desire to move in the same direction.

Influence however is not the same as manipulation. When we manipulate people, we often to so to achieve our personal goals at ALL costs and leave those we have manipulated feeling cheated and done in. When we influence however we work together to achieve a common ALLIGNED goal that we all feel good about when we have achieved success. Influence would never happen at the intentional detriment of others. The key lies in your intention or motive behind your persuasion of others.  

So as a project manager I need to understand the vision of my project, have the ability to share and sell it to the project team and put lots of passion and energy behind it so that they can follow suite. Simple right?