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Monday, 21 May 2007 09:53

Evil Alter Egos: Episode 1 - Mr. Genius

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There is a certain gene in the DNA of a project manager that results in a superhero complex.  We are the ones that find leadership voids and itch to fill them.  If there is chaos, we long to tame it.  When things are wrong we strive to right them.  Where there is no org chart…well, you get the idea. 


Unfortunately there is also a dark side to this gene.  It is the side that urges us to become bosses instead of leaders, engrossed in schedules instead of managing and concerned with process over people.  Over the next several entries my goal is to help fight those tendencies and overcoming our Alter Egos.

The first Alter Ego that needs to be dealt with is the Mr. Genius.  He is prevalent among new or weaker project managers that have moved up the ladder from a technical background.  He thinks that since he is in charge he must be the brightest and have the best ideas.  His ideas are presented as facts and the team had better fall in line behind them or else. 

There are several downfalls to this concept.  First, as you transition from the technical realm to project management you can’t stay current on the latest and greatest.  Naturally your ideas start to become old school technically.  Second, it stifles any ability of your team to bounce ideas around and make them better.  Third, you begin to realize that there are brighter bulbs on your team than you.  Finally, your team will eventually find people to work for that value their abilities to think.

The only way to overcome this is through my 4-step program.

  1. Repeat the following: “My idea is not the only idea and sometimes it isn’t even the best one.”  If you struggle saying that then keep repeating it until it sticks.  Eventually you may realize that you want people on your team that are smarter than you.  It increases your odds of success and allows you to concentrate on clearing the path for them.
  2. When you present an idea make it the starting point and not the final decision.  Be the first ones to point out a flaw that needs to be addressed.  This encourages others to either replace your idea or make it better.
  3. Don’t stubbornly hold on to an idea that has been bested.  You will only build animosity with your team.
  4. Appreciate the final product.  Acknowledge the team’s success and refrain from muttering “my idea still rocks” under your breath.

Following these steps will result in a more productive team and keep you from burning out trying to be the brightest one in the bunch and the evil Mr. Genius can be sent packing.


Read 4875 times Last modified on Sunday, 13 December 2009 18:49
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