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You are here: Home Blogs Displaying items by tag: Leadership
Project Management Blog
Monday, 23 May 2011 19:10

Authority Earned, Not Given

For project managers, the support of their team is critical for completing projects successfully. Yet, a team’s respect cannot simply be assigned like a task. Acquiring and executing project authority with the support of a full project team demands careful and skilled execution. 

Project leadership requires a humble yet assertive persona, capable of taking charge when needed and delegating authority wherever possible. A project manager must develop their own skills and lead with principles. Doing so will certainly encourage team loyalty. If a project manager simply presumes authority, they will never earn the backing of their team. 

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Monday, 09 May 2011 21:06

Can You Schedule Conflict?

Recently we have discussed steps to take to when you decide to step in and step up to conflict resolution. In ‘You Decide to Resolve a Conflict’ Part I and Part II one of the underlying assumptions was that you had time to plan your actions and the steps you would take to resolve the conflict.

All of that is really great when you can plan to face a conflict in advance. But some of you might be saying to me, “But conflict can’t be scheduled.” Yes, it’s true. Not all conflicts can be scheduled. Some situations happen right in front of you and you’re involved and you see that you need to stay involved. What do you do?

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best_placeWhen I started my company, Journyx, 13 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I am a programmer and technology geek by nature and I left my programming job to start my own company with nothing but an idea and a dream. Back then, I did not have the experience needed to effectively manage people. I had to learn these skills through trial and error, and I had to learn them fast, in order to keep the company going.  After all, human resources are a company\'s most valuable asset.

Over the years, I have done every job there is in the company.  I’ve been the accountant, the software developer, the marketing and PR professional, the testing department, integration services, customer technical support and sales.  I have lost sleep when we were close to missing payroll, watched as competitors copied our software bit for bit and lied about us to prospects, and then celebrated along with hard-working employees as we achieved success.  Today, Journyx has 50 employees and several million dollars in sales with absolutely no outside investment.  Here are some of the things I learned along the way about managing and motivating employees to reach their highest potential.

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Tuesday, 28 December 2010 11:47

Servant-Leadership

I have a very distinct leadership style. Those who I work for will attest to this. I'm not talking about superiors. I'm talking about subordinates. In order to help build a culture I am proud of, I uphold altruistic principles. I am a servant-leader.

Servant-leadership is a philosophy and practice of leadership, coined and defined by Robert Greenleaf. Upon doing my research, I read that Greenleaf felt a growing suspicion that the power-centered authoritarian leadership style so prominent in U.S. institutions (of the time) was not working. In 1964, he took an early retirement from IBM to founded the Center for Applied Ethics. Yes, 1964!


When representing ethical leadership on a grid (see above), the graphic should help put into perspective who leaders are and what leaders do.

Egoism: When a person acts to create the greatest good for himself or herself. You can find people exhibiting this orientation at every level of an organization. When the organization and its employees make decisions merely to achieve individual goals (at the expense of others), they lose sight of a larger goal.

Utilitarianism: The idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing utility or minimizing negative utility. The focus is to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Spock says "logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Altruism: The opposite of egoism, a person\'s primary purpose is to promote the best interests of others. From this perspective, a leader may be called on to act in the interests of others, even when it runs contrary to his or her own self-interests. In Start Trek III: The Search for Spock, Kirk says altruistically, "Because the needs of the one... outweigh the needs of the many."

Larry Spears, the head of the Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership for 17 years, identified ten characteristics of servant-leaders in his 2004 article Practicing Servant-Leadership. The ten characteristics are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.

Unlike leadership approaches with a top-down hierarchical style, servant leadership instead spawns collaboration, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power. At heart, the leader is a servant first, making the conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase their own power.

The objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement. Exhibiting servant-leader qualities tends to give a leader authority versus power.

Are you a servant-leader?

 

Published in Blogs
Monday, 15 November 2010 04:00

Managing a Virtual Project Team

VirtualTeam

Let’s face it; virtual teams (where we work with colleagues in remote locations, be they close by or in different countries) are now a reality in the workplace. If this trend in the workplace environment continues, virtual working will increasingly influence the way we operate, and the ‘effective virtual team worker’ will be a valued asset. A key benefit to forming virtual teams is the ability to cost-effectively tap into a wide pool of talent from various locations. There are several definitions of the virtual team worker, but within the context of this article, we are talking about people who work on project teams and who display the following attributes:

  • They work primarily from a particular office (maybe a home office, or maybe a fixed work location), and they are not expected to travel each week as a part of their job (i.e. road warrior) or be physically in the office on a daily basis.
  • They likely work from home one or more days per week.

Most project managers with a few years experience or more are likely to have managed a project where some or even all of the project members were remotely located. How different is managing a virtual project team from a co-located team? Are there additional considerations or risks involved in managing a virtual team? Before we answer these questions, one must first understand the dynamics of the virtual team worker.

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The Triple Constraint of managing the interaction of time, cost and scope is a familiar model to most Program and Project Managers.

Delivering projects on time, within budget and per an agreed scope can be considered to be a “good result” by the project team. But effectively managing these constraints does not guarantee that the project is deemed a success by all of its stakeholders. Additional project constraints need to be taken into account to determine whether “complete” project success is achieved.

A general starting point for these additional constraints is this: think about the longevity of the project’s end output. Take a moment to think about projects you have been involved in, or known about, that finished 12 months ago or longer. Did they deliver their end output on or before schedule, on or below budget and did they fully meet the requisite expected level of scope and quality? If so, great. Now fast-forward to today. Do you know how well the end output of that project is being used? And does it contribute to the organisation in the way that may or may not have been originally anticipated?

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RecognitionReward and recognition for project resources who deliver successful projects is generally accepted as good practice in the workplace (indeed, rewarding staff for successful performance against agreed criteria is commonplace in today’s organizations). Regardless of an organization’s general structure (be it projectized, functional, matrix-based etc), successful project completions are rightly celebrated. At project closing, the project team should take the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments, with the project manager and/or upper level of stakeholders using this event as an opportunity to recognize particularly strong performances from individuals on the team. Celebrating project success, when it is merited, is a worthy process; however, the manner or magnitude in which you celebrate project success has the potential to cause problems elsewhere within your organization if it is not handled in a measured way. 
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HR_selectionMany project managers have likely been subjected to “resource selection” well before they knew what selection criteria, roles and responsibilities, or project management for that matter was. Many may recall their elementary or primary school days, and perhaps the selection of sports team members in the school yard or playground. Typically, two captains were likely chosen by someone in authority (such as the sports teacher), and then each captain selected their teams based on a perceived ability to perform, the positions or roles they needed, and maybe how well the captain thought the people would fit into their team. That was then. Fast forward to today.  School yard “captains” are now the equivalent of project managers and/or resource line managers, and their “sports team” has become the project team. How different is your project resource selection from that of the school yard and do certain risks exist in your current approach?

Published in Blogs
Monday, 21 June 2010 14:24

Put Others First

"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." - Napoleon Hill

Not a lot of people always get the above concept.  Some people become so focused on themselves and their own needs that they forget about the people around them.

 

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Happiness is the full use of your powers along lines of excellence in a life affording scope…’ John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

An Analogy… Years ago as kids, when we all didn’t know (or worry about) what project management was, our PMBOK’s were comic books (we acknowledge that many adults read such material today). We couldn’t wait for the next monthly or weekly issue to come out of Superman or X-Men, or the Fantastic Four, or Spiderman to name just a few. Of course, not all comic books involved superheroes, but many of them did. Each superhero in our imaginary worlds has at least one or more special skills or powers that made them champions for justice and “the greater good”.  Let’s not forget the arch nemesis and villains like Lex Luthor, Magneto, or Dr. Doom that had similar powers but used them for the wrong intent.

Today we probably all know some of our colleagues as ‘superheroes’ for the efforts they give or the results they achieve individually and/or with their team.  Are they considered our champions or Olympians in program and project management? Do you admire them for their strength the same way one might respect a person who can undertake admirable feats of physical endurance or run at incredible speeds?

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