The Curse of Knowing

You didn’t get into your positions by being a dummy (let’s hope). And now you find yourself in a position where you are looked toward for leadership. Perhaps even, you are the leader; of a team, of a division, or an organization. Now, further suppose this isn’t your first time around the block. You are a seasoned veteran with lots of experience and a great deal of success on your resume as well as a few battle scars.  You are confident, wise, and extremely knowledgeable. And it shows.

Project Managers can often lead their teams with such arrogance that they stifle creativity, foster resentments and at worst invite saboteurs. For the purposes of this blogpost we will summarize the root (and consequently, attempt to outline the solution) to this PM error into three major categories:

1. You really don’t know what you’re doing

Take it from me, this could be the case! You are (or at least believe you are) in over your head. But you can’t let your team know because you are the PM! You are the leader, and you have all the answers! Don’t do that. If you are in over your head, guess what, your team already knows it. Don’t pretend like you’re not, embrace it. BE HONEST and pay attention to your role. Occasions have come along in the past when you did have the answers and you rightly drove them to the basket and scored. They will again. This time around, pass the ball and make sure the team is working how it should. After all, isn’t that really your role?

2. You forgot to LISTEN FIRST

No matter how wise, how experienced, or how intelligent you are; as a leader or as a PM, please, please never forget to LISTEN FIRST. You will earn your teams trust and respect if you listen to and value their input before providing your own. You will get their honest input without biasing it with your own. And you might just learn something you thought you already knew.

3. You are an arrogant asshole

Your days are numbered.

Project Managers often fall prey to much of the leadership propaganda in this respect when stepping forth to manage their teams. Please take a step back each and every time before you lay out your plan for a project. Every time when you discuss an opportunity for a solution with your team; be honest and listen first. You will NEVER know all the answers … even though you may think you do.

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2 responses to “The Curse of Knowing

  1. Love it and totally agree. Reminds me of a related one I wrote: http://pmstudent.com/new-project-manager-how-to-screw-up-in-the-first-60-days/

    I try to use this as my guiding principle: I am a facilitator, first and foremost. Leadership doesn’t mean being the smartest or having all the answers yourself. It’s about people who follow you because they WANT to, and that only comes when you’ve earned their trust and respect. You value them for their skills and input, and when they respect and trust you and see the team’s vision clearly, they will produce their best work.

  2. Thanks Josh. That’s right…you value them. An important place to start.

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