Leadership Sans Ego & Insecurity

Photo courtesy : cultivategreatness.com

Everywhere we turn our focus to, we hear something negative and how leadership should come forward.  Leadership at every level is already faced with some difficult choices.  It is of paramount importance that when leaders make decisions to change the course, decisions should not have been plagued by personal ego and due to insecurity.

As John C Maxwell says that Ego and Insecurity are the two greatest landmines of leadership; think about any world leader and if he stepped on these landmines or not.  Do you want to?  After a long time when we reflect on the decisions we make today should be matter of proud.

As a leader, we get a chance to serve our people, I mean serve genuinely.  In these times how we act will shape our organizations and societies.  Lets take the right actions while we overcome the short-term issues, we keep long term objectives in our minds.

Thanks for visiting, and have a great day!

Capture Planning Assumptions

Your boss approaches you and tells that workplan is very good but customer wants to know how can we deliver the project sooner than promised?  Now you have to come up with a new workplan or make some adjustments based on new findings.  You put your thoughts together and go on to make changes/update and deliver the final document with required changes. 

And then your boss asks, why this task is due this particular day and why are we taking this long to complete, etc., etc…

You might have answers for most of the questions your boss has asked but it is of prime importance that you document all the assumptions you made while planning, does not matter how small or evident those assumptions are.

I would capture following –

  • why are you making these changes or what is the objective and if these objectives are aligned with customer expectations;
  • what are high-level or global assumptions for the plan being put in place (standardized assumptions);
  • why making change to time/scope/cost;
  • what are risks that can derail the work;
  • what are the opportunities that you are counting on;
  • who are the critical resources you have based your work on;
  • what exceptions from standard process did you make;
  • what compromises are built into the plan;
  • what is the impact on existing process (if any);
  • for budget tail of it : dollars spent per month; and
  • what are the key milestones.

I hope these are the basic questions that we should be able to answer from a Project Management perspective when talking about assumptions.  Let me know what your thoughts are and what else could be added to the list?

Thanks for reading it, appreaciate your feedback.

Life is bigger than that!

2008 is nearing the completion of business work days and it was one of the eventful year.  We have seen all from US election to Canadian elections, Wall-street meltdown to Automotive bailout, Saturday Night Live comedy to economic worries.  All the stuff, never thought of. 

But when it comes to our professional life, one needs to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.  I have mentored and provided guidance to few people over the year and have also asked for advice from my peers.  Some people either make small issues into big problems or do not even have clue what is wrong.  Here are some of the points to consider-

  1. Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
  2. Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
  3. Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
  4. Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance.   Life is bigger than that!
  5. Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say.  Give credit where deserved.
  6. Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor.  It may be wise to stay quiet.
  7. If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
  8. Help others grow and learn.  Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
  9. Take vacation or take time out.  Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
  10. Try to listen.  Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
  11. Dress according to your job profile, at least.
  12. Do not make ‘difference of opinions’ at work your personal issue.

I firmly believe if we are serious to improve ourselves, we can start afresh anytime.  Its never too late and Life is bigger than that! 

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

Communication Skills for Managers – Learning From Barak Obama

I was looking into posts on Mr. Barak Obama’s communication style and how it contributed towards Obama’s victory.  Did Obama address people in all 4 categories of DiSC Model?  These categories are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness

Each person in his/her category wants to hear in a specific manner.  Some people need direct answer while others need some encouragement and hope and so on.  Please see the table at the end of the post and read more about DiSC Model

While doing so, I found very interesting Wall Street Journal video on the topic titled  “Learning From Obama’s Effective Communication Skills“.
 

To summarize, what project manager can do –

  1. giving good positive message
  2. clear and compelling tone
  3. giving substance along with style
  4. speaking with confidence and authority
  5. not in hurry to speak- patience
  6. pause between sentences: at least 3-4 seconds
  7. stress the right words
  8. relate to people and places
  9. make it simple to comprehend
  10. identify what is not right with other approach

Here is the table what people mainly like to hear/communicate around- 

Major Category

Like to hear words and actions around

Dominance

challenge, power, direct answer, authority, assertive, active

Influence

empathetic, people focused, receptiveness, accepting

Steadiness

stability, methodical, calm response, careful approach, thoughtful

Conscientiousness

logic focused, skeptical, clarity and quality, questioning

What are your findings?  What did you learn? Lets share.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

Fast, Cheap AND Good

Good, Fast or Cheap

Can’t pick any two? You also need all three – fast, cheap and good? 

It has been very commonly used set of options in I.T. when offering an alternative or usually when dealing with issues from outsourced service.  Someone will come and say – “Pick any two!” 

Sometime ago I was involved in a project where we had to pick any two options and it was very hard to leave out the third one.  Many times we had to leave ‘cheap’ and other times ‘fast’,  for us ‘good’ was essential and paid the price accordingly.  We had to compensate for third left out option through continuous improvement.  I kind of thought that this is the  dilemma every one will be facing.  But it is not the case as I am finding out.  Things are getting better.

Continue reading “Fast, Cheap AND Good”

The 7 Habits For Managers

Stephen R Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is classic and most of us have read and learned from it. 

 This week, I listened to his another audio book The 7 Habits for Managers: Managing Yourself, Leading Others, Unleashing Potential. Its based on ‘classic 7 habits’ and with focus on management. 

I would recommend to listen to this audio book to refresh 7 habits and learn how managers can apply these habits.  If this is new to you,  here are classic 7 habits and start with reading ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

Habit 1 – Be proactive
Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind
Habit 3 – Put first things first
Habit 4 – Think win-win
Habit 5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Habit 6 – Synergize
Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw

These habits are to be used as pointers for our actions.  We got to make sure that our employees understand the value of these habits and learn from these. 

Thanks.

DiSC model – Management Styles

I completed DiSC (stands for Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) training last week and fount it interesting.   DiSC confirms one thing, different strokes for different folks.

DiSC is a system to help you find out similar and unique characteristics among people.  It also shows person’s behavioural preferences and helps to identify different management styles that can lead to obtain better results through interaction. 

According to the DiSC model, there are four management styles – by Dominance, by influence, by Steadiness, and by Conscientiousness.

Series of questions lead to a specific DiSC profile, that tells you what is your score and what is you dominant style of management and what are your supportive styles. 

D – Dominant : these people are active and questioning; these are direct and competitive in nature.  These people want to ‘get it done’.

i – Influence : these people are active and accepting; motivated, enthusiastic, sociable and lively. 

S – Steadiness : these people are thoughtful and accepting; patient and even tempered, accommodating. 

C– Conscientiousness : these people are thoughtful and questioning; kind of private with analytical abilities and task oriented.  Main objective is to ‘get it right’.

As we know everyone is unique and all have different ways of interacting.  Imagine, I interact with a person who has dominant  style of ‘Conscientiousness‘ (private and task oriented).  I pretend to be of ‘influence‘ (sociable and enthusiastic) dominant style; my interaction with that person can not be productive as I may not be providing the specific instructions that other person needs. 

Why is that?  Because people with dominant ‘infulence’ style mix personal talk with business discussions, becoming informal and emotionally expressive leaving the ‘Conscientiousness’ style person unclear or confuse as Max requires specific task oriented info and does not express himself emotionally.

How it will help me?  It lists what are key strengths, what things are overused, what could be the limitations and what changes should be made in management style that make one more effective.

Have you ever taken DiSC and Meyers-Briggs assessment?  What are your thoughts? Did you benefit from it?  Please share your thoughts.  Thank you for reading. 

More info –

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment 
  2. One of the best books on the application of DiSC is by Keith Ayers titled “Engagement is Not Enough.