In my younger days i did a lot of track and field. I ran the 400M hurdles and proved to have some success in it. I would attend track meetings most weekends during the summer. What i use to feel, and what is reinforcing it self now, is how isolating running my race could be. It was me against others and as much as people may support on the outside it was down to me on race day. I warmed up and got into the zone ready to race and felt the nausea of the adrenaline before a race and quite a few times the high of winning at the end but that was always just me with those feelings.
In some respect it is the loneliness of every runner who runs an individual race. A few years ago i did a relay with a team of 12. We were one of over 400 teams running this relay. It went on for over 24 hours and covered more than 200 miles. It was a remarkable experience and one i will never forget as you form bonds with a group of people, some of whom i didn’t know, and encourage not just your team members but others. Many people during that run achieved more than they ever thought possible including me. I felt accountable to finish my legs of the relay as part of my role in the team – it wasn’t a race but an event to complete. It was meant to be a team event and truly was.
It made me realize how much being part of a team means to me. How we have our roles to play but to have others around encouraging you, supporting you and you support them means so much and creates a ‘high’ you don’t get on your own. I crave the same at work – the ‘high’ that comes from being part of a team and from the pure human interaction and camaraderie of working together for a joint goal regardless of personal gain. There seems to be so much focus on the individual and the isolation that comes from us all using our personal devices and believing we have team work without the human interaction.
We all need to take a step back, form relationships that build teams and start to enjoy the ‘high’ that comes from that basic human desire to socialize and collaborate – make it a goal of 2018.
For sometime I have been thinking about making a decision and you have been analyzing that in your head and talking to friends and colleagues for some time. Being someone with a Project Management background you procrastinate about really planning things out to the point or even developing a plan. By doing so you are getting frustrated by the lack of action and suddenly realize that same frustration comes from business and IT leaders when confronted with project management asking them to plan.
You have to get the balance right – you have to make time to plan, talk, analyze and then you have to act. You cant be seen to hold action up because inaction is unacceptable.
So I have the outline of a plan and a vision and I have begun to do and check and finally act for the long term.
When you lead a Project you need to ensure your team has all the right skills but more importantly all the right team attributes to be successful.
- If the team is to succeed it needs to be acting as a team and not a collection of individuals.
- For individuals to act in unison with one another they need to be confident in their abilities and contribution to the team
- Confidence comes within but can be coached from you as well.
As the Project Manager your job is to ensure your team members act with confidence and that is especially hard when things aren’t going well as happens on every project. Look for the signs when confidence wains in individuals and use your leadership skills to take that person aside and bolster them up. Share concerns but also instill the confidence back into them. You will see the difference if done well and your team will thrive from the confidence displayed by them.
I saw this image this morning and it reminded me:
1) there are those that talk about communicating more,
2) those who say they are innovative
3) those who say they are transparent but…
Leadership isn’t about doing one thing well it is about combining things well that leads to trust.
When your team trusts you and you trust them anything is possible..
We sometimes get caught up in the day to day aspects of our job and accept what has always been. As we get sucked into our roles we have to consider how we can make a difference and that is by challenging what is accepted and leading my making bold decisions. In a profession like Project Management you can read theory and put that into practice. You can implement what is described as ‘best practice’ and wonder why projects wont go to plan.
I want to challenge us all to take a step back and question what we have always done and ask why?
There are times as a Project Manager that you have to rise above the drama that unfolds not just on your project but in the work environment around you. That is part of day to day work life but the Project Manager has to stay focused on the project objectives at hand and by acting that way show an example to your team to follow. This holds true for all those in leadership positions. Dont get involved in the drama that others choose to create.
Take the high ground, no matter how hard, and act with a high level of emotional intelligence – you will make a difference to some, if not all, around you.
As Project Managers we always look to have our plans set, budgets tracked, scope understood and generally controls in place to lessen the risk of failure. All these things are great to have but let’s not forget that to be truly successful you need a team to perform together and your job is to have them perform at their best.
Individuals on a team aren’t always at their best – we all have our days when things just don’t seem to be going right and we feel like we are achieving little of any value. As the Project Manager and leader of that project you must be able to see that and act.
One of the easy ways is to constantly keep three words handy when you speak to your team members – ‘can I help?’.
It doesn’t mean you always can – it just means you are there if needed and helping your team