It’s Time for PMs to “Take the Bull By the Horn”

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Attribution license, taken by shortfatkid

This is a short post about soft skills and leadership that I think is appropriate for project managers today. We are in the midst of tough times economically. Troubled times remind leaders of the need to take responsibility. Tom Watson, founder of IBM once said something like this: “It’s not the tough times I worry about, it’s the good times.” Mr. Watson was undoubtedly referring to the observation that in good times we tend to get sloppy, whereas we tend to be at our sharpest during bad times.

Good times can often cover up for a multitude of errors. There are projects that are deemed successes, but perhaps should not be. But in tough times, the level of scrutiny rises. I suggest that we can all take advantage of this opportunity to “sharpen up” in every way we can. Where there are problems, admit your part in what went wrong?even when painful or embarrassing. This will not only move the situation towards real solutions, but will also be a model for those you lead.

Integrity is also something that tends to slip in good times, as evidenced by the source of much of the market difficulty we see. As project and program managers, we need to be introspective, then stand up and show others how to take responsibility by doing it ourselves, making ourselves examples of integrity.

Skills are also an area where we can take control at this time. We can best take care of ourselves and others by making an extra effort in these tough times to sharpen our arsenal of skills, and help others to do the same, through both training and experiences.

It has also been said that “tough times make tough people”. This is an opportunity to seize the moment. I would love to hear about tough situations in this economic environment where PMs are seizing the moment.

Photo by shortfatkid @ Flickr