Some time back I was having breakfast with a couple of guys that I work with in one of the organizations which I volunteer. In this organization, I have been leading a group of about nine men for about four months to set a vision for the group, decide upon our key focus areas, and lay out activities which the group will undertake for the next year. I was very pleased with how the team "gelled" and the fact that we seemed to be moving the ball forward towards meeting our vision. During breakfast, one of the guys told me that, by and large, the team was happy with me but a couple felt that I came in too heavy-handed and authoritarian. Blech.
As leaders we have a responsibility to ensure that our area is managed effectively and that we are driving the organization to achieve its stated objectives. We also have a responsibility to grow the next generation of leaders to ensure that the great work we've done continues on after we've moved on. Keep some of these nuggets in mind as you ponder making the next generation of leaders great:
Brad was an incredibly bright young executive with a very promising future. Ever since graduating college, he seemed to take on increased responsibilities in his company like a duck to water. He married his college sweetheart, Nancy, right after graduation and has two small children. Brad's talent didn't go unnoticed in the industry, with several competitors approaching Brad about his willingness to join another firm. He steadfastly resisted, that is until the offer of all offers came his way.
Cantata Group, a larger and more prominent competitor to his current company, wined and dined Brad and ultimately offered him a VP position with a higher salary and better benefits. The offer was too good to pass up so Brad talked with Nancy about the job and they both became enamored with how this was going to advance Brad's career and what they would be able to do with the extra money. Brad joyfully accepted Cantata's offer, gave his current company two weeks' notice, and started in his new VP role.
Within a year of joining Cantata, he noticed some unexpected side effects of his new position. He was required to be in weekly global executive virtual meetings which could happen at any time of the day or night. He was routinely working 60+ hours a week, missing dinner with Nancy and the kids. He traveled at least once a week, many times to put out fires at clients. His eating habits were horrendous and he wasn't exercising due to his schedule. He began putting on weight. Nancy was frustrated with him not being around and his kids missed their daddy. The stress was unbearable and led to Brad one day grabbing his chest and collapsing during a customer meeting.
As a small business owner I’ve had many many discussions with colleagues about my products and services. Throughout these discussions I have gleaned some outstanding pieces of advice about things I should be focusing on and ideas that I should be pursuing. I also have been on the receiving end of some pretty random ideas which may have had some merit in the eyes of the beholder but just didn't seem to fit well with the direction that I want to take the business. One colleague of mine got pretty peeved with me because I wasn't executing upon his advice. The truth is, his advice just didn't align with the other advice I was getting and didn't fit well with the direction that I want to go. I stuck with my spider-senses and didn't execute upon his advice.
Project management is changing….it's becoming more strategic, more mainstream, and not just synonymous with technology implementations. Today's PM needs to be more than technically adept or be able to whip out a gantt chart. Get a read on some of these crucial skills the everyday PM will need to succeed:
In 2004 I left a career that I loved at Microsoft so Patty and I could team-homeschool our son Trevor. With Trevor being on the autism spectrum, we felt he was going to need more help in his transition from 6th to 7th grade than the school system would provide. I focused on math and science, and Patty focused on arts and languages. We ultimately mainstreamed him back into public school by 9th grade. Today he is a college graduate, living on his own, paying his own bills, and leading a typical life for someone his age. Each time I look at my son I'm reminded of how the decision we made in 2004 was so right.
Fast-forward to today. My career post-Microsoft has been extremely fulfilling as an author, consultant, and publisher. But I deep down wondered what our life would have been like had I stayed at Microsoft. I decided to go through an exercise where I looked at what our life was like today versus what I thought it would be like had I stayed at Microsoft. This is where something I created called The Eight Drivers of Contentment comes into play.
Just about every seasoned project manager has experienced at least one failure in his or her career. I am always skeptical of the experienced PM who says "I've never failed". They're either lying or don't have experience. Some of my best (and most painful) growth as a professional occurred because of a failed project. Project managers can redeem themselves and maintain credibility by doing the following:
Secrets of success? Oh puh-leeze. There aren't any secrets of success in my opinion. Success is achieved through things that we've been taught to do for years and years. Good old-fashioned hard work is one of your strongest foundations to ensure meeting your life goals. In addition, building the following pillars on the foundation of hard work will increase the likelihood that you can meet those goals and achieve your dreams. Check out these four pillars and see if any resonate with you:
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