“From my observations, there is a particularly breed of project leaders who really grab my attention. They are what I would call a ‘people-person’, and what I like most about them is their natural inclination to lead their project through conversations – also the tough ones! When their team members don’t deliver on a promise, they call it out. When stakeholders resist, they welcome it and ask for the truth. When their sponsors go invisible, they seek them out and ask for what they want. They are rarely on their keyboards or devices, but perch on the ends of desks, walk corridors at the end of the day, or listen in a local bar later still.
The few project managers that I really put high on a pedestal are those for whom tough conversation is so integrated in who they are that it seems easy, even enjoyable. They don’t see difficult stakeholders as antagonists to be rugby tackled, but as equal people who walk in different shoes, and who have no less right to choose their own behavior than we have. I suspect they see projects as a social system, possibly because it might be too obvious to consider that it might be a mechanical one. Whether they think this or not, they thrive on the fundamental ingredients – relationships, connectedness, and trust. This is created through conversations, lots of them.
These project leaders have plenty of self-confidence, but it seems composed rather than brash. They take risks, but without seeming reckless. In fact there is little ego involved; the issues seem not to be about ‘them’, but just about what needs to be discussed. In our intellectual management culture we have a name for it – ‘authenticity’, but in truth I am not sure what the best word for it is. One client said to me, ‘it’s obvious dummy – it’s leadership’. We laughed knowing there was truth in that. In any event I fully intend to enjoy watching it some more, and who knows, maybe emulating it a little each day”.
I am keen to hear how you have personally approached this particular topic. Please leave a comment below.
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