“Leaders are born, not made”, is a statement what every one of us would have heard or used at least once. Those were the days when so called leadership traits, skills were rarely seen and in fact a few are seen in a century. Is that because the rest of the people don’t possess those qualities or because they have not exhibited them inspite of having those qualities?
Of course that is not our area of interest, but leadership traits, certainly yes. Leader and Manager are two terms when used are understood as synonyms. Whatever the industry we are in, whatever level we work at, we see that only a very few people will get recognized, though many people work at same level, does the same work. Most of the world addresses it as performance. If performance is 100% dependent on the skills and knowledge, then everyone should be performing at the same level which is an ideal situation. Though If not at the beginning, at least after spending considerable amount of time in the same role and after gaining knowledge and experience, everyone should be performing up to same standards, but, the fact is not so, which means that there is something else other than skills and knowledge which decides our performance and gains visibility and recognition. What is that something?
It is the same thing that helps people in your locality recognizes you. It is the same thing which gives you special place in your family, with your friends, at your university and which portrays special you for yourself. Which takes you to the destinations you want to reach and to horizons you want to explore. That is you’re MINDSET & ATTITUDE.
Most of the successful people in the history were not successful only because of skills and knowledge; it is majorly because of their determined mindset to achieve. It can be said that skills/knowledge and mindset/attitude play equal role in deciding your succeeding chances. Success means different to different people, but in this context success means achieving whatever is agreed for, within agreed limits and factors. If you look at the type of projects that are being undertaken, they are with huge financial involvement aiming a very big or great outcome. Ordinary mindset and thinking cannot achieve extra ordinary or great results. That is why people say think out of the box. That so called box is with four walls, bottom and a cover which are result of your knowledge, experience, associations, beliefs, social connections and many more factors which we technically call as socio, political environmental factors. You have started your work life some years back, worked hard changing yourself as per the ever changing trends and culture due to which you are given or will be given a chance to take higher role with a lot more responsibilities. The name of that new role could be “Project Manager” or something else, but proper justice can’t be done to the role if the wall, bottom and cover are not broken down. One needs to change his thinking dimension. One needs to be accommodative and adaptive in the corporate work environment to achieve success personally and also to make the project a big success. Project Management along with People management is totally a different ball game which still needs higher level skills and mindset as it also involves succeeding with people.
As my experience and observation helps me, below are some of the important mindset qualities.
Believe in SELF:
Can I? , What if or if not? Are basic first set of questions that roams in our minds when we are given a new challenge or responsibilities. These questions are dangerous. If you are given a bigger responsibility than that you are currently performing, if you are asked to play a bigger or different role than that you are playing at present, then it is evident that the nature around you is already in belief that you have that capability and you are chosen to perform that responsibility. Having such questions in mind will bring down your confidence level. Such questions will shut down the brains out of box thinking mechanism.
Low confidence levels will automatically be shown in your body language, which are easily noticed. We need to be aware of the truth that we are solely responsible for protecting our own mental environment, confidence levels, morale…etc. There are many factors outside to disturb them, but protection has to come from within. Remember that your fears and disbeliefs are contagious. They are freely transferred to the members of your team further worsening the situation at work environment for which you are directly responsible. Don’t let that happen. Learn the methods and mechanisms to build and strengthen your belief in you. It is not an easy task at the same time it is not an impossible task. It needs practice, a continuous practice to keep yourself protected from external factors which disturbs your inner self.
Understand that the situations you are in are created by man, not by any eternal force to believe that they are beyond your capacity and capability. Always keep saying within you “I will”, “God made me to win”, and try hard in all means to induce same belief and trust within your team and colleagues, because the reality is that we work in team and together success is more easier and sweeter.
Be an Entrepreneur:
Creativity, Innovation, Courage, People skills are the basic attributes of an entrepreneur. Though those attributes are influenced by many external factors, a person with entrepreneur mindset will be successful in grabbing opportunities, which makes him different from others. One of the biggest strength seen in people with entrepreneur mindset is that they create opportunities with their innovation and creativity. Have a very strong observation for opportunities to grab and open the arena to perform by creating opportunities.
Another quality of entrepreneur is risk taking. They are experts in calculating the risk. They have the courage to take the risk in order to achieve the thought impossible. People with Entrepreneur mindset don’t fear for failure, they take it as a lesson learnt. They also let others grow along with them, because they strongly believe in team work and togetherness.
Align & Let Align:
As a project manager you are expected to have the same vision as business has for the project. Being responsible for the project success, you need to take all the necessary actions to align your and teams actions to the business objective. Unless thoughts and actions of every individual working in the project are aligned to the business objective, team can’t move in the same direction as business is.
It is PM’s responsibility to help team understand the business objective and establish a similar vision. It is only possible with the information you pass onto the team. Aligning to business objective can be easily achieve if you open the communication channels and let the team interact with business and business to interact with your team for professional reasons. As the communication flourishes, vision is automatically formed and people align themselves to business objective. Once every one in the team is aligned to the same vision and objective, managing and directing them will not be a painful task for a PM.
Work for business value:
Business value is the measuring jar for your projects performance. Whatever you do on a project, one basic thing to remember is that it should add to business value. If the kind of work we do or the decisions we make doesn’t help in achieving expected business value , then it is a clear indication that we are wasting projects resources and you may over run in terms of cost and schedule. It is very much possible in every project and with every team member that while they work hard to excel and make the project successful, they try to take steps which will not contribute in achieving business value.
As PM you need to have that skill and knowledge to identify such situations and correct before it is too late. PM need to have fair knowledge on tools and techniques which helps him in such situations. A point to remember is that not in all cases business value is measured in monetary terms.
Learn Policies, Standards and Practices:
In a world of competition it is very easy to deviate and look out nonstandard ways to execute project. Your or teams such actions may lead project into issues with quality, schedule, cost and many other legal troubles which is an unwanted situation for the project and organization. In order to help PMs not to go into such situations organizations will decide on the standards and practices much before the project starts. You need to be aware of all those policies, standards and practices, and in fact you should be expert with relevant knowledge.
Unless as a PM you have expert knowledge on standards and practices, you can’t guide your team in right direction, neither you will be able to judge their actions. You will also not be able to reason your team when asked why and how. Keep referring to internal standards and processes regularly and update yourself with changes and additions.
Always be available:
Your availability to people at different levels will decide your visibility to people at different levels. There is no doubt; people will be looking for you every day either for help or some other reason. It is very critical and difficult to keep yourself available to everyone and for everything. You should have the skill and intelligence to prioritize the people’s need and make yourself available. Use all the communication channels and means to make people feel your presence and availability. Mainly understand the stake holders, their interest and power in the project and plan your availability accordingly. You should be able to lead both downwards and upwards.
Have and Let have Work-Life balance:
This especially a happens with brain workers. It is very easy to carry work to home. As a result of competitive spirit, dedication to the project, strong desire to meet the expected performance, people will lose work-life balance. There is no level, experience and role difference for this to happen. This happens with everyone at every level.
Home is the place where we rejuvenate ourselves. It is the place where we get motivated to come to work, perform and achieve. It is the place where people wait for us and only for us. It is not a wise act to give it a second place. It is as equal as your job or profession. In fact the reality is that your home is the cause and reason behind your hard work and performance. As a PM it is your responsibility to establish such environment where work-life balance is understood and practiced.
Be a learner always:
“Sharpen your saw at regular intervals” is well known performance principle. Industry trends are changing. Technology is taking new and never thought of turns very rapidly. Human relations are always changing and it is always a mystery. If you take a small example of data storage, there were days in the past when 256 MB is thought to be a sufficient memory for life time, but now we are speaking about big data. Every standard is rewritten with the emerging technologies and mankind thirst for excellence. The average experience level for managers, people leaders and similar roles falls between 10 to 13 years with relevance. Every industry has undergone changes and upgraded or improved its practices, standards and knowledgebase at least 4 or 5 times in the last 10 years. With a very simple understanding we can say that what we have learnt 10 years back is out dated now and in some cases it is proven not useful.
Coming to project management practices, there were lot of changes what a project manager in 90’s would have never thought off. There was a time when it was felt very rare the need to work daily with people from different countries and cultures, but now it has become a daily need. Communication has undergone many changes. We have learnt about the different cultures in the world and how to communicate to them. World has learnt how to communicate with us. What not, everything means everything what we have seen and learnt 10 years back is not same, they have changed or disappeared.
Only way we can still be competent with the present world and the current future generations are to keep ourselves upgraded along with the world. We need to know the new trends in our respective fields.
We need to have a practice in place which can help us in upgrading ourselves with new changes and trends. We need to have a dedicated entity which constantly keeps observing the changing practices, trends and make the knowledge available for us to use. It is the responsibility of every organization to facilitate learning.
“Keep playing at the same level of performance, else you are out of the game” – Rule of game called LIFE.
In short, be a role model to all your team and have the qualities which make your team to look at you when in need. Always have an extra hand to lend to your people.
- A high priority project for which you are a project manager is running in very tight delivery schedule and the customer’s technical team has already raised a concern on delayed delivery of code. When you are thinking how to meet the time lines, One of your technical team member comes to you saying that a very critical module what he is coding for seems to take more time and he proposes to use the code available on public internet so that module coding can be completed fast. As a project manager what should be your action?
- Appreciate the team member for coming up with an idea and immediately approve to use the code from public internet.
- Consult senior management with proposal and take their consent to do so.
- Refer to external and internal policies to understand whether using code has any legal implications and take decision accordingly.
- Use the code from internet and suggest the team member not to reveal it to anyone.
- You observe one of your team members is regularly working till late hours. You also observe that he is coming very early to work and seen tired the whole day. Couple of other team members also brought the same issue to your notice. As a project manager with responsibility to deliver the project in time and with 100% quality what will you do to correct the situation?
- Record the incident in performance notes and use it against the team member during performance review.
- Call for a meeting with the team member immediately and warn him.
- Create a backup to the team member so that project will not be affected if he falls ill.
- Speak to the team member, try to understand the reason for his working style and try to help him achieve work-life balance.
- During a project review meeting, one of your technical team members is arguing on part of a requirement which is newly added. He is not happy to work on the new requirement only for the reason that he feels that it is not required for the business. What should be your action to convince him and take up the module?
- Use your project manager authority to force him to work on the module.
- Organize a meeting to explain the business value what the new module adds, so that whole team will understand why new requirement is added late.
- Inform to business that your expert team member feels that, new requirement is not required for the business and take their opinion.
- End the argument and ask other team member to take up the work.
Question 1: c
Question 2: d
Question 3: b
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