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It's about people, people

Do you know anyone that says on a regular basis, “you know, I really can’t stand people”? Do you think this view impacts their success as a leader, project manager or team member? I bet you're nodding your head right now.

Once upon a time, Peter DeYoe wrote an article, that he has since revisited from an Agile perspective, entitled “Flock or Fleece." He quotes the book Instant Turnaround by Harry Paul and Ross Reck:

“Effective leaders are those interested in the flock – the people they are leading. They see their role as that of a giver – to get behind their people and support them in ways that bring out their best.

Ineffective leaders are interested only in the fleece and couldn’t care less about their flock – they’re takers…"

He says, "The lesson here is to be a giver and show an interest in your flock. If you do, your flock will respond in ways that will guarantee your success as a leader.”

Sheep Mountains Norway from Pixabay

Pete also wrote an article called, “Why Being a 'Good' Manager is 'Great'” after reading the book, “Lead Well and Prosper” by Nick McCormick. I also love this little book and worked with Nick to create a presentation to highlight a number of the book's lessons for project leaders. Why? Because...

I believe that being a good project manager who cares about people IS GREAT!

We all know that projects are hard and often involve strange hours and/or time away from who and what we really care about. If you are in a job where you aren’t sure you are doing as much for the world as you had hoped, then look around. If you are genuinely interested in and care about people and do everything you can to help them be successful while simultaneously understanding that sometimes people actually have lives outside of work, then you are doing a GREAT thing for the world! You are doing your part to help to create a healthy work environment for people. When they feel good about coming to work, it truly is a gift that keeps on giving - for them, for their loved ones, for you, for the project, for the company, for the world.

Does your team feel good about working for and/or with you? What slight change can you make right now, to bring out the best in people even more? Let me give you a hint…it’s not by “shearing“ them when they walk into your office.

How do you know you are a good project manager?

One way is obviously whether or not your projects consistently meet their objectives. The other one is all about people. When people hear that you are running another project:

  • Do they seek you out to learn more?

  • Do they ASK to work with you again?

  • Do people who worked for or with you on projects give you great references?

  • Do people actually say to other people, “one of the greatest attributes about <fill in your name here> is that we always knew that s/he cared about us….or…was trying do the right thing…or…had our backs…or…made us feel good about ourselves…or…would do anything she could to help us succeed….”

So, now matter how good you are at the technical aspects of your job, if you don’t have people who would sign-up to follow you again, perhaps you should look at whether or not you truly care about people. As Pete recommends, ask yourself, "Is my behavior demonstrating my concern for the flock or for the fleece?”

In this environment where organizations are generally no longer promising 20-30 year careers, one way that talented people will stay where they are is if they are happy to be part of the flock. And happy sheep are well fed, allowed to graze in green pastures and lovingly rescued from ravines when necessary.


About the Author: Dawn Mahan, PMP, is the Founder & CEO of PMOtraining, LLC., and previously worked as an IT/Business Consultant with super gents like Pete and Nick. Now she's the author of the upcoming book, "Accomplish More. Stress Less. The Practical Guide to Driving Successful Projects." Sign up for our mailing list to receive special announcements, offers and news about the book.

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