March 29, 2012, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.
From the Editor
Kimberly Wiefling's column this week got us thinking about leadership in action -- what does it look like, and how do you know it when you see it? Discussion from eloquent contributors like Alfonso Bucero, Brian Irwin, and Cinda Voegtli supplement Kimberly's energetic take on the question. If you'd like to take a deeper dive into the subject, the templates and tools we've collected this week will help.
No, We Can't Be Like Steve!
Honestly, I was never a big fan of Steve's leadership style. He always seemed to me to be the perfect example of what is known as a "rock star CEO," the genius-with-a-thousand-followers kind of leader, who occupied the spotlight as a solo act, leaving little opportunity for his team to develop, contribute, and shine. My most admired leaders are those Jim Collins describes as "Level 5 Leaders," combining authentic personal humility with intense professional will. In fact, I'm always skeptical about the leadership of CEOs if their company's stock price fluctuates with their health -- to me that's a signal that they haven't built a strong leadership team. Practically speaking, giant global companies can't be led by one human being.
By Kimberly Wiefling
However I realized that Steve had indeed made a deep impression on me when I, too, shed a tear upon hearing that he had left us behind, stranded here on Planet Earth without his brilliance. I've spent the past 5 months ruminating about what kind of leader he was. I've frittered away many hours on transoceanic flights wondering why I, and so many other people, admire him even though even close associates have described him as "a demanding perfectionist" and "inconsiderate" -- not exactly the kind of person most people clamor to follow
Even if we could "be like Steve," should we want to? »
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For Team Members
For team members, "leading from the middle" can be as simple as taking the initiative to say something when you see something. It can be scary, but it's no less necessary.
Guideline: Speaking Up – PREMIUM
Speaking up is a key leadership skill, whether or not you're officially the team leader. This guideline can help you make your case more effectively when you see ways your team could improve the project or work together better.
Project Practitioners Blog: The Power of Questioning Why, by Brian Irwin
"Perhaps because asking Why is viewed as being contrarian, and therefore may have a negative career impact, we never bother to pose the question. [This] can cost our organization immeasurable sums of money and also lead to failed initiatives and projects -- not to mention the countless wasted time we expend ourselves." Brian's most recent post tells how a newly hired engineer saved his new employer crazy amounts of money with one question. Seen any tire wrappers lately?
For Project Leads
Are you leading your team, or driving them? These resources give project leaders practical examples of productive leadership in action, from real projects.
Project Scope Definition: Mission Statement – PREMIUM
A short, well-crafted mission statement focuses everyone on the critical project objectives and aligns everyone's work to the same goals. It expresses the driving need of the project's customer, the value the project will bring to the company, and the critical project parameters to achieve both those goals. This guideline provides advice and examples for building a high-level project mission statement for your team.
Conquering Micro-Management – MEMBER
Being a leader does not mean you have to be in everyone's business. This mini-case study relates the experience of a small game company's founder and the decisions he made for making PM work for a fast-moving, bureaucracy-hating team.
Sweet Team Building Suggestion – PREMIUM
Think soft skills can't be quantified? Think again. This case study provides a how-to approach using candy and Management By Walking Around (MBWA) for team building, complete with numbers.
Encourage your project managers to develop and refine their leadership skills with ongoing support and practical direction.
Coaching Guidelines – PREMIUM
This guideline provides ideas for setting up and carrying out a coaching arrangement, where a more experienced project manager coaches a less experienced PM during a project.
Leadership and the Project Lifecycle – PREMIUM
Help project managers understand the shifts in tone, task, and approach required throughout a successful project with this table showing the evolution of leadership responsibilities during different phases.
Complaining about your projects or trying a different way?, by Alfonso Bucero
How often do you complain? If you are wondering whether you complain too much, simply ask your colleagues or your project stakeholders. They will let you know.
Now, when I say "complain," I am not talking about those instances when you discuss your problems in an attempt to search for solutions. Thatâs constructive and commendable. And I am not referring to those occasions when you share your project life experiences with colleagues or friends in the context of bringing them up to date on the latest developments in your professional life. After all, part of being human is sharing our experiences and supporting each other.
Alfonso's post this week describes the difference between discussion and complaining, and shares several practical ideas for not being "one of those people" -- you know, the ones who complain all the time, but never do anything about it. Which team are you on? For more on this mindset, see Cinda Voegtli's classic post
An Executive View of Career- and Success-Limiting "Boxes".
WBS and Schedule Models
User Manual WBS and Draft Schedule – PREMIUM
As any technical writer can tell you, there's no such thing as "just" writing a user manual. If you've recently been put in charge of this supposedly simple project, or if you're trying to anticipate the resources you'll need for this portion of your software project, you'll appreciate this work breakdown in MS Project format. It includes notes on task estimates and resource allocation, and incorporates cross-functional tasks it would be easy to overlook.
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Kent McDonald is at STAREast in Orlando, Florida on April 19 to present "Talking Quality to Business: Metrics for Improvement" with Todd Brasel. See the STAREast website for registration information. Later this month, he appears at an IIBA Professional Development Day in the Twin Cities area for Estimating in the Wild without Silver Bullets.
Cinda Voegtli will be at the PMI Silicon Valley chapter meeting in Sunnyvale on April 4, discussing "Tools and Techniques: Leading Teams through Tough Project Decisions." Details and registration information is available on the PMI-SV website.
Carl Pritchard is at client engagements throughout most of April, ranging from London to Gettysburg. But he'll be running a public Risk Management Essentials workshop at the Silver Spring (Maryland) PMI chapter on April 25. Check out the event details and registration info on the PMI SSC chapter website.
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