Thomas Edison, when asked why he had a team of twenty-one assistants “If I could solve all the problems myself, I would.” Another rather amusing fellow I know said “There is no “I” in TEAM, but there is an “I” in WIN!” Whatever your philosophy, working in a team is challenging, especially when separated by distance and time zones. Team work requires taking into account the views of others with whom you may not agree, and working with people who may seem irritating, stubborn, or just plain sociopathic at times. And there is always some level of conflict, which most people don’t enjoy (although some people argue for sport!), so the road of “journey shared” can be a bit rocky at times.Here are some survival tips based on my 20 years of working in teams:
AVOID TEAM WORK!
– Well, only if you don’t NEED a team, of course! If you can accomplish the goals without investing your time and energy into building a team, avoid working in a team. Teams should only be used to accomplish what cannot be accomplished alone. If you are playing a game that only a team can win, you’d better have a team!
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb
CHOOSE TEAMMATES CAREFULLY
– OK, we don’t always have a choice of who’s on our team. But, your individual success will be tied to the success of the team, so when you do have a choice, be selective in choosing teammates. Personality clashes and lack of shared values are a recipe for lots of angst and very little progress. I’ve quit plenty of teams, and even jobs, to escape torturous teammates. Life is just too short!Continue reading
Most of my work revolves around the power of creating breakthroughs through extreme optimism and hideously positive thinking for which “hyperbole” simply isn’t a big enough word. I frequently rant and rave about the hazards of know-it-alls who poo-poo every idea and wield their negativity like a scythe, cutting down anything new or imaginative in its path. But the popularity of negative thinking is undeniable, and, like most veteran business leaders, I’m a pro at it. I was reminded of this when I recently received a note from a guy I used to work for at HP who, after reading my book, mused “It seems a bit cynical. Is that intentional?” Jumpin’ Geezus on a pogo stick! Yes, of course it’s intentional! Any human being who’s been a manager in the corporate world for more than a couple of hours and hasn’t become a tad cynical simply hasn’t been paying attention.
Negativity for its own sake is an annoyance at best, and a soul-sucking experience similar to what I imagine a psychic vampire would produce. But in the right hands, it’s a weapon of mass construction, freeing the mind of half-hidden dark thoughts, and an on-ramp to the superhighway of results in your business. Jump in, strap in and hold on ‘cause we’re going to take the curves up on two wheels.
Negative Thinking is Easier, I’m Positive!
Perhaps due to some quirk of evolution and slight survival advantage (my apologies to the creationists out there), human beings seem to find it easier to think of things from a negative perspective. Don’t believe anything I say, of course; check it out for yourself. Continue reading
“Hey, has anyone seen my rubber chicken?” He goes with me everywhere as I travel the world spreading the word about breakthrough leadership and execution excellence. You might say he’s a “frequent flyer”, or perhaps even a “frequent fryer”. One thing is for sure, he’s vital to my work, which mainly focuses on helping people overcome the biggest obstacle to their success – their own self-limiting assumptions and beliefs. When I want to help people learn something from the rubber chicken I just hold him at shoulder height and release him. “What causes the chicken to fall?”, I ask. “Gravity?” That’s not the answer I’d give. Not if I was determined to be a menace to mediocrity, a person who is committed to creating breakthroughs in their projects and in their life. No, “gravity” is the victim’s retort. The real reason the chicken falls is because I released him.Now there is always “gravity” out there on our projects – things we can’t control – but it’s no use rocking back and forth moaning “woe is me” while all hell breaks loose on the project. When the doo-doo hits the fan a true project leader asks “How did I contribute to this and what do we need to do now to deal with this?” It seems like a simple enough lesson, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to learn. It takes courage to accept responsibility for what is happening around us, to avoid blaming circumstances and other people, and to focus on what we can do to make a positive difference. Winston Churchill said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” Continue reading
Thank you so much for the insightful, inspiring, and useful talk this morning. You have a real talent!
You were so helpful in giving us food for thought with the many processes we need to put in place. Thanks!
Kimberly is a whole energy level unto herself. I call it the “Kimberly Factor”. Her passion to give, teach and mentor excels people, programs and companies.
For Believing in us, showing up, and helping us realize our dreams – we thank you.
Kimberly is a physicist by training, is active in SDForum and other technical organizations, authored the “Scrappy” Project Management books, is a skilled and engaging facilitator, and is also funny and refreshingly entertaining.
In a 3 hour workshop you helped to change people’s attitude about our challenge from something with too many obstacles to starting to see the big prize and plan the first baby steps, in short a transformative experience.
This book unabashedly puts forward a new, unambiguous, non-shrinking, and ultimately empowering view of what we all as project managers should commit to be and do every day in our project roles.
“It is always a pleasure to work with Kimberly. As an expert in leadership and an experienced instructor, Kimberly brings her great knowledge and first hand experience in innovation and entrepreneurship to her work. She frequently contributes to the TVLP Institute programs for both individuals and corporate clients from 42+ countries. Kimberly recently guided about 70 senior leaders of YPF, the largest Argentinian oil and gas provider, during a Learning Lab intended to promote team cooperation a… Read more
As an old program manager myself, and now as President of a large technology company, I find your book spot on the money. Your readers would do well to read the book several times and practice what your write until it becomes second nature. The world around them would become a much better place – and the satisfaction that goes with high achievement would fuel a long and successful career. While your book was written for program managers, it applies to anyone who works with people. It is a mus… Read more
Thank you for inspiring me to be the leader I aspire to be. You are a great model of the courageous leadership philosophy in action.