Must-have Inter-personal Qualities Before You Say, “Follow me!”

Rallying a team requires a project manager to work at his professional relationships. This is not about manipulating others to selfish ends–quite the opposite. The PM must be driven by an honest and loyal heart. For example, during one interview to become a “recovery PM” I asked the general manager if he would allow me to interview employees, and give a report, possibly exposing their discomforts with management. I had been transparent with him about my professional experience and commitment to his interests. He said, “Yes.” His trust in me is a reflection on my honesty and loyalty shown during the interview.
Honesty and loyalty piques people’s attention but does not earn respect. For this the heart requires the assistance of knowledge. The PM must have a growing understanding of the pains, dynamics, and domain of the project. Consistently demonstrating this understanding earns respect. For example, the person who can speak perceptively on most topics at meetings “owns the room.” A PM must be quick to understand the nuances of the project.
Honesty, loyalty, and understanding get attention and earn respect but do not rally a team. This requires action–often daring action. The PM must lead whatever happens, not the other way around. If he leads well, he will be fostering other team members to take initiative, and even some daring actions of their own. After I got the job and completed my report above, I proposed we implement Scrum, and the GM agreed. The project recovery began when I daringly removed a functional manager as meeting leader, and achieved a multi-fold increase in team collaboration as measured by their time speaking during and after meetings.
The three-part inter-personal foundation I strive to build throughout my projects is honesty, loyalty, and daring. I admit it takes focus and a bit of cavalier attitude about fitting in with company cultures. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see this drive a change in some company cultures?


About Bruce

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