Fearless Project Leadership

airplanedog.jpgIf you are absolutely dependent on your paycheck to survive, do yourself a favor, don’t be a project leader! In most of the scrappy high-tech organizations that I have worked in, the role of a project leader cannot be successfully filled by anyone who can’t put their job on the line in the pursuit of doing The Right Thing. From the project kick-off, where the project leader may not even be involved, to the attempted premature launch of a less-than-ready-to-ship product, projects run a higgily-piggily route. This real-world path rarely resembles the neat, tidy, well-defined process described in the PMBOK®.

In order to deliver results in the challenging circumstances typical of many business environments, project leaders must be absolutely committed to the success of their projects and leading their team to that success. Frequently they must execute this feat without any explicit support, sometimes with active resistance, and occasionally in the absence of any evidence that the project is indeed possible. This calls for leadership in the face of fearsome challenges. Continue reading

Wild Success in 2008 through Optimism and High Self-esteem

istock_000000882290xsmall.jpgIn spite of much rhetoric on the subject, and the holy grail of the triple constraint, you cannot measure your entire worth as a project leader, or the success of your project, purely by whether they are on-time, on-budget, and feature-complete. In fact, to do so could create a negative spiral that further undermines your chances of success.

Marcus Buckingham, of First Break All the Rules fame, argues in The One Thing You Need to Know that people and teams do not perform at their best when they are realistic. Great managers get the best performance from people when they build their self-assurance to the point of helping them to become unrealistically optimistic. And great leaders achieve the best from their organizations when they rally people to a better future and get them to be unrealistically optimistic about the prospects that things will get better.

Optimism is a Strategy

Unrealistic optimism and high self-esteem are key factors in individual and team success. However the project management environment isn’t exactly brimming with unbridled optimism and positive reinforcement. Quite the opposite. Continue reading


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