Walking into my boss’ office to tell him I was quitting was one of the hardest moments in my career. I was in tears. I loved my job. My boss was wonderful. My team was fun. The company was a great company to work for. But it was time to leave. At university I took the Myers Briggs test. I remember sitting in class, reading about the best careers for an ENTJ. There was one that stood out to me: CEO. That’s what I wanted. Over time I forgot though, distracted by different career options. In my MBA I took a project management course and discovered an entire career field just for me. I poured everything into project management. I began volunteering at the Project Management Institute, worked on finding a project management job, and in general lived and breathed project management. Life as a project manager was great, but there was still something missing. Continue reading
I worked for a VP who loved to empower us to get things done. The first time she said it to me, I felt my chest swell and I had confidence we could conquer the world, or at least execute the project. That confidence quickly vanished when I realized we weren’t really empowered. In order to advance the project, we were dependent on other parts of the organization – teams that we had no influence over. Sure, we could have conversations with these groups and attempt to gain buy in, but ultimately, it wouldn’t be enough because the challenges we were facing related back to the priorities that had been set for the entire organization. The conversations and decisions needed were way above our heads. That’s when I realize we had false empowerment. Continue reading
The project was struggling – over budget and behind schedule. It was a critical subproject of a larger program and delivery was critical. Senior leadership decided it was time to change the project manager, and I was brought in to lead a turnaround effort. As I was digging into the details of the project, I came to the conclusion that my predecessor wasn’t a bad project manager (thankfully he was just transferred and not let go). The project needed a different leader with a different style and set of skills. If you have projects in your portfolio that are struggling or the team is burnt out, here are some reasons it may be good to change the project manager: Continue reading
Toxic people in the workplace are nightmares! They thrive on making your life miserable. Often their behavior is driven from pride and somehow it makes them feel good to treat you poorly. Likely you have seen all these people at some point in your career. Here are a few tips with how to deal with them:
Crises happen in the workplace frequently. Whether these crises are real or artificial, it seems there are four types of poor leadership that emerges during crisis (or perceived crisis) situations. Each having a negative impact on the team:
A kegerator? Friday lunches paid for by the company? Open workspaces where even the CEO doesn’t have an office? It sounds like a page right out of Silicon Valley. You won’t find this company in California, though: they are right here in Denver, CO. I knew there was something special about this company when I met a handful of the employees at a networking event. They all seemed to have a passion for life. They didn’t seem like many others at a networking event: the ones compartmentalizing home and life (which doesn’t work); and the overly professional or agenda-pushing. Everyone from the company was high-energy and fun to be around. Continue reading
Bossiness is not synonymous with leadership, despite what the recent movement claims. The difference? It’s all about the approach. I was a bossy child. In fact, I was so bossy that at four I was in charge of my single-parent family. I told my mom what to do and held her hostage to my whims. I bossed my friends around to the point I didn’t really have any. If my friends didn’t do it my way, I had a bad attitude or didn’t participate at all. That’s not leadership.
Technical skills can be taught, character cannot. Hire character. Technical skills are easy to define and measure. You can quantify someone’s expertise on software. You can give a test to measure knowledge. You either have a degree, or you don’t. When hiring we focus on these measurable aspects of a person’s resumé, but these aren’t important, at least not as much as character. You can teach someone software. You can send them to a class to close some gap in technical skills. It’s much more difficult to send someone to a class to teach them to inspire, collaborate, or be visionary. When you hire, focus on the character skills that are non-negotiable. Continue reading
“Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” You may have heard this famous statement by Chuck Swindoll. The more life I get under my belt, the more I believe this is true. Crap happens every day, but how it impacts us is directly related to our perspective and our attitude.
What are you doing to make the most of bad circumstances? I had a tough week the other week. As I was driving to a meeting, my car broke down on the side of the road. It was the most inopportune time! I tried to start it and quickly realized I wasn’t going anywhere in my car. After letting the other person know I would no longer be making our meeting, and after arranging the tow truck, I had an hour to kill. I could have spent it sulking about how I couldn’t afford a broken car, how I was missing a critical meeting, or how life sucks, but instead my first thought was, “Well, now I have time to practice my presentation!” For the next hour, on the side of the road, that’s what I did. There isn’t anything you can do about the past. Once something happens to you, all you can do is choose how you are going to respond to it. Always try to make the most of what happens to you and you will find, in the end, it was probably a valuable experience. Continue reading
As a business owner or a department head, do you have a strategy for your team? How successful are you at achieving your strategy year over year? What if I said you would be more successful if you did less?
One of the greatest pitfalls I see companies fall into when executing their strategic plan is trying to do too much at once. After going through a strategic brainstorming session, there are so many great ideas on the table. A five-year vision is developed, then the two-year strategic objectives, and finally the tactical initiatives they wish to accomplish that year. Once nicely laid out on a board or in a three-ring binder with page protectors and full-color pages, leaders begin assigning team members to champion each of the tactical initiatives. After receiving their assignments, everyone goes their own separate ways until next year. Continue reading