Thursday, January 13, 2011

Standing for something

Somewhat on a downbeat, I was struck by a recent description of smart guys who fail at leadership:

It's not enough to know a lot about a lot of things and have an opinion on everything; you have to stand for something
A paraphrase of a thought by Timothy Egan

An unambiguous core is part and parcel to attracting followers and influencing your nemesis'. Of course, other qualities are needed, to be sure, not the least of which is a measure of personal charm and charisma.

Project managers don't get a pass on this stuff. The culture of the project is the culture of the leader, pure and simple. The core value of the project emulates the core value of the leadership.

This is 101 level material, but it's amazing how smart guys often don't get the memo!

One simple test: is there a "big idea" that arches over the project narrative? If not, it may be hard for followers to see the way, day to day. If so, the big idea should connect to, or be, the core belief... that's why we're here, guys!

Remember my definition of narrative: verbs from the schedule and nouns from the WBS, strung together in a paragraph that explains what's going on.

In Egan's view, the big idea need not be complicated; in fact, to borrow a page from agile, KISS... keep it simple, stupid. Said James Carville: "it's the economy, stupid", and we all remember where that went.

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