This past week I had the honour of participating in the PMI Leadership Institute Meeting in New Orleans. It is a gathering of Chapter and Community of Practice volunteer leaders to grow their skills, network, work with the PMI on initiatives and plan next year’s events for our Chapters/Communities. We were fortunate to have Mike Staver as the opening keynote, presenting Leadership Isn’t for Cowards.
With his hilarious “tell it like it is” attitude, Mike got the audience of over 1000 project managers to list all of the excuses we have ever heard (or used ourselves). We quickly filled the flipchart page with excuses ranging from “no time”, “no resources”, “too tired” to simply “I forgot”. To get past these and lead, we need to accept the presence of these circumstances and deny the power of them to rule our lives. Instead, we should invest our energies in ways to get a massive return on our investment.
To do that, we need to acknowledge what “season” we are in. Every person, team and organization, naturally goes through four “seasons”:
- Spring – the time where we plant our ideas
- Summer – when things heat up, we are working hard with lots of things going on, but the payoff is delayed
- Fall – the payoff has arrived and we celebrate
- Winter – the time of insulation and isolation
Even if we are in one of the other seasons, we must always prepare for winter because it will always come. That’s where we should invest our energy to maximize our ROI.
Mike went on to describe the three fundamental needs that are barriers to great leadership and how to cure them:
The need to be right
The cure: develop a genuine sense of curiousity
The need to be in control
The cure: let it go
The need to be all things to all people
The cure: just say no.
Everyone in the audience could identify with at least one of these barriers.
As Mike said, every consultant needs an acronym so he concluded with the six things to ATTACK:
Accept your current circumstances
List out everything you need to deal with in your life and face it. Don’t judge it. Simply accept that these exist.
Do it quickly, which is different than fast. Make sure you act on these circumstances sooner rather than later, but spend the time you need on them.
Building a culture of responsibility is a culture of repair, not blame.
Celebrate your wins and develop a sense of gratitude
Commit to lifelong learning
Leadership is not something that is learned in a day. It is something we continue to learn throughout our life.
Kindle your relationships
Life is about relationships, but they need care.
Mike’s book Leadership Isn’t For Cowards goes into more detail. I picked up a copy in the PMI bookstore set up for the conference and look forward to reading it.
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