I Was Told
Don’t say this. Ever. No, really. No one in a leadership position should be caught saying “I was told.” Such thinking can be indicative of a bad mindset and also sends a bad message to both your teams and your business partners. Nothing says “not me” like the phrase, “I was told.”
Once you assume an executive role, you take on the responsibility of leading even when you may not like where you must lead. You do have the right to respectfully and tactfully question your own leadership, but once the decision has been made, you have two choices – deal with it or quit. Part of dealing with it is getting behind the team you are on and leading the resources assigned to you in order to execute and support your firm’s mission.
The message you send to your team when you play the “I was told” card is that your first loyalty is to the team you lead. To be an effective leader within your firm, your first loyalty must be to the leadership team of which you are an integral part. The team that reports to you are your resources that you must effectively lead in order to add value to your team and to your firm by getting things done. If this paradigm is objectionable, you may be working for the wrong firm.
The message you send to your business partners is that you are not in control and that you lack confidence. Your business partners need an empowered, confident and effective collaborator – not a victim of circumstances beyond his control. It is imperative that your business partners view you as someone who can execute and deliver. If they question this ability, you’ll only be adding to their stress rather than solving their problems.
Own your leadership role and set the right tone for both your teams and your business partners. You may well have “been told,” but as a leader, you need to either respectfully work behind the scenes to effect change to what you were told or publicly get behind the decision and move forward.
© 2014, Mark E. Calabrese
How To Make an Enemy of Your Project Manager
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So you’ve decided to make an enemy of your project manager. You’ll be surprised at how little effort will be required on your part to achieve your goal. Here are four easy steps to quickly reduce your value to your team and your PM:
- Silence: Never let your project manager know if you see any risk in making a deliverable date (particularly if your deliverable is on the critical or one of the controlling paths). Things might clear up on their own and let’s face it, the project manager will just get mad if you tell her. Also, don’t bother yourself with informing the owners of any predecessor or successor tasks of the risk as this will only make you look bad. The less you say, the better.
- Task Information: If you break radio silence, don’t let your project manager know which task or deliverables will be impacted. If you’re using a project plan, don’t provide task IDs or any other information that might help the project manager track the risk back to specific work-streams in the plan. Giving your PM this information will only result in his going off to model the potential impact of the delay and start taking mitigation actions. Better to be vague and maybe tell a few other team members and let things “trickle up” to the project manager on their own (PMs know everything, anyway).
- Estimates: If you go soft on providing task information, avoid providing estimates of how significant the delay might be. This will only allow the project manager to model the impact, set expectations with project sponsors and take mitigation steps to keep the project on track. And let’s face it, you’ll be held accountable for your estimates. This smacks of the injustice of team members getting blamed for everything they do.
- Thought Leadership: Ultimately, the key to making an enemy out of your project manager is to provide absolutely zero thought leadership on mitigating or avoiding any impact to the project plan. Don’t get creative and provide ideas. Try “thinking for management” by filtering out any idea that you are “absolutely certain will be rejected” or that might make you look bad by appearing to question management. As with estimates, your idea might be implemented and if it doesn’t work out, you could be held accountable. The smart move is to sit tight and wait for someone to tell you what to do. Remember – inaction is action when it comes to making enemies on your project.
By following these four easy steps, you will not only alienate your project manager but also position your team for failure. Communication, accountability and planning can be stressful and who knows – you may even prove to be an example for other who want to avoid this type of stress. Only by failing to lead can you ever hope to lead others to failure. Good luck!
© 2014, Mark E. Calabrese