Are You A Leader? Thank you.

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
– John Maxwell

I was riding the train into work when I read this quote for what seems like the hundredth time.  Each time I’ve read it, it seemed to have nothing to do with me or with my job.

The term “Leader” always seemed to apply to charismatic people who point out the direction and say, Go Execute!

So you’ll understand why I always read over the quote, until that morning: when I understood that “adjusting the sails” is the same as making do with what you’ve got.

‘Make do with what you’ve got,’ is a familiar idea to many project managers: if not the exact phrase, then they know it by experience. When I read the quote that morning, it occurred me that every day project managers take situations that are handed to them and then adjust to help their projects move forward.

This post is for project managers who, like me, have read that quote and felt like it didn’t apply.  If you hear from no one else, read it now and believe that you are a leader when you:

  1. Are given too much process for a 6 week project or not enough process for a 9-12 month, multi-site, multi-product effort.
    Whether you’re working with Quality to waive unnecessary paperwork for people who need to get “the work” done or you’re feeling your way through a process that that doesn’t cover new products, partners or new business arrangements and needs to be  adjusted to help your team get “the work” done, you’ve read it here first: You’re a Leader.  Thank you.
  2. Are given limited resources and a desired (read committed) date.
    You’ve met with the Customer / Product Manager to hear the need by date.  You’ve met with the Development Manager to go through a resource chart and heard an explanation of why your request is impossible. Now you’re faced with the task of working with the feature managers to see what is possible, taking that undesired date and presenting the truth to your customer. Guess what?  You’re a Leader.  Thank you.
  3. Are given a project in the middle of organizational seismic change.
    Change happens in organizations. Nowadays, it seems like change occurs every ten minutes. If your project is impacted by Offshoring, company acquisitions, layoffs or management changes, and you work with the team to keep the project from slipping dates or failing due to external risks…Congratulations. You have met the criteria: You are a Leader. Thank you.

Every situation where you confront the unexpected and the seemingly immovable is a place for you to shine as a leader. Remember that on days when you feel a little overwhelmed and decidedly unleaderlike.

Until next week, Leaders.
Leave me a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.


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