For nearly 10 years, I’ve thought of myself (in professional terms) as an executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Before that, I thought of myself as a general manager or a managing director. I thought of myself that way because those are, and were my formal roles. It wasn’t until I was preparing to interview Suzette Blakemore, co-author of FranklinCovey’s recent book, Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager that I realized all I really am is a project manager. This is not a demotion, just a piercing and accurate description of my job.
I’m not depressed by that – but it was sobering. It made me look at, and approach, what I do with a different, project-oriented, mindset. Everything I do, and am responsible for, at its core is essentially a project. I often have 20+ of them running concurrently with different deadlines, varying levels of impact and importance and most of all, numerous people involved in them. Each person brings their particular experience, career goals, personality traits, confidences and insecurities and ideas about how something or some process should function.
That’s the big variable, not the process, but the people. In fact – people are the biggest cause for a project succeeding or failing, and that’s FranklinCovey’s unique point of view on project management: People + Process = Successful Project Management.
It goes almost without saying, a process is essential. It is part of the equation for success after all. But you can put the right people into the wrong process and the project will still get done, to an extent. Your people will spend their time (and talents) to overcome the obstacles created by a poor process. On the other hand, if you put the wrong people into the wrong process or even the right process for that matter, there is no guarantee they will succeed. I would even argue it’s a leadership failure no matter the outcome.
So who are the ‘right people’? They are self-aware and mature. They are interdependent and understand how to work with other people. They have abundant mentalities and don’t hoard knowledge or resources. They have confidence in their own skills, but at the same time have a sincere desire to help others, even if it means other people get the credit.
Where do we find the ‘right people’? You can hire them, but they are rare, and even then it’s no guarantee they will thrive in your unique culture. The only sure-fire way to get the right people is to develop them. That’s our job as leaders, to unleash the talent of those we lead and to achieve results with and through them.
Nothing in your organization, not your cash, your equipment, your strategy, distribution or brand is as valuable as a highly trusted, competent, and aligned team that is crystal clear on what success looks like.
That’s the real value and legacy of leadership; people. This doesn’t absolve us from influencing the process. People and process aren’t mutually exclusive. They are part of the same equation. But it helps us allocate our limited time and resources on what’s most important—our people.
How are you leading and developing your people? Are you leading by example, modeling the behavior you want them to exhibit? Are you having difficult conversations, summoning the courage to take on the undiscussable? Are you aligning the passion and talent of your people with their roles? Are you spending as much, if not more, time on developing them for the task as you are designing the process to execute the task?
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