Project management

it's not for wimps! (Developing the courage to lead)


To be a great project manager you must have courage, because you have many decisions to make about plans, processes, and people on a daily basis.

Courage is the backbone of leadership, and values secure this backbone in place. To develop the courage to lead, you must have a framework with which to analyze value. The science of axiology gives you this framework and helps you make better decisions and develop your courage to lead.

Topics that we’ll cover in this presentation:

  • What is courage?
  • Understanding the impact of your core values on courage
  • Three axiological classes of value and the hierarchy of value
  • How you can scientifically measure your critical valuing habits
  • How you can improve your valuing habits to develop your courage to lead

You’ll come away understanding:

  • How your personal hierarchy of value impacts leadership.
  • How to use the principles of axiology to make better decisions.
  • The thinking and valuing habits that can sabotage your courageous leadership.
  • The steps to increase your courage and become a daring leader.


Definition of Courage

Courage is defined as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” (Courage, 2010, ¶1) Synonyms are fearlessness, dauntlessness, and valor. The origin of the word comes from the Latin word coraticum, meaning heart. Courage is an inner strength. The word valor comes from the Latin word val, meaning to be of worth.

Courage is when you know in your heart that something is more valuable than the fear.

C.S. Lewis said “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” (Lewis, nd ¶1)

Examples of Courage

This young man was born in a bedroom, two months premature, on November 30, 1874. He was independent and rebellious and did poorly in school, for which he was punished. He was sent off to boarding school and was rarely visited by his mother and father. He wrote letters to his mother, begging to come home and asking her to visit him.

He had a speech impediment and it took three attempts at passing the entrance examination before he was admitted to military college. After serving on the battlefields, he was elected to Parliament in 1900. In 1936, he was shouted down in the Commons and left. He later returned as Prime Minister and led Great Britain in her finest hours.

Winston Churchill displayed great courage against seemingly insurmountable odds and is quoted as having said, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

Other examples of courage include:

  • Chesley Sullenburger, who piloted U.S. Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. He landed safely and saved the lives of all 155 people in the aircraft.
  • Jim Joyce, a Major League baseball umpire, whose incorrect call on the last out cost Detroit Tigers pitcher, Armando Galarraga a “perfect” game. Joyce admitted missing the call and apologized to Galarraga immediately after the game.

You may also have some every day examples that come to mind.

Foundation of Courage

Ambrose Hollingsworth Redmoon said that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important [valuable] than fear.”

Assessing what is “more important” or “more valuable” is the basis of courage. It is your core values and valuing habits that determine whether or not you act courageously. Most people don’t understand that there is a difference between core values and valuing habits because they are not the same.

A core value is a non-negotiable principle. A valuing habit is an acquiring pattern of judging value that, over time, becomes almost involuntary. A habit is a customary practice. This practice may or may not be aligned with your core values.

However, if you confuse your core values with your valuing habits, you may believe that your valuing habits are also non-negotiable. Courageous leadership requires negotiating (changing) some of your valuing habits. Benjamin Franklin once said, “I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.” (Benjamin Franklin, 2010, ¶1)

Axiology—The Science of Value

Misaligned Valuing Habits

A core value is an ideal or principle we hold important. A value can be honesty, integrity, excellence, compassion, or quality. A valuing habit is a conditioned response based on our conditioned perspective of what adds value. This conditioned response may or may not be aligned with the true value.

Every thought, choice, action, and reaction you have ever had, made, or taken in your life is based on your perception of what will create the greatest net value in your life at that moment. It’s how you are wired; it’s how the human mind works. Yet, your perception and perspectives may not always be aligned with the real value.

For example, you have probably heard someone say that there is nothing more important to him or her than his or her family. Yet, he or she is consumed by his or her work, and repeated cries from his or her children to play or spend time with them fall on deaf ears. Or, how about the company whose mission states, “Customer service is our business.” Yet, they won’t invest in hiring more operators to answer the telephones and, instead, keep their customers on hold for extended periods of time.

Misaligned valuing habits cause these symptoms:

  • Weakness, wariness
  • Insecurity, ineffectiveness
  • Misguidedness, manipulation
  • Pain, pretentiousness
  • Selfishness

Foundations of Axiology

In the 1960s, Dr. Robert S. Hartman made a discovery that allows you to quantifiably measure your valuing habits. He discovered principles that provide order and structure to valuing. Using logic and mathematics, Dr. Hartman made what was previously intangible tangible, much in the same way that Galileo applied mathematics to motion and made it tangible. Today, it seems absolutely natural (a tangible thing) that if you travel a hundred miles in two hours, you are going at a speed of fifty miles per hour. But, for Galileo to produce the equation v = s/t was a tremendous achievement. Dr. Hartman’s logic is also a tremendous achievement that provides us with tangible measurements of our thinking.

Dr. Hartman is known as the father of formal axiology. He discovered that all things have an objective value relative to everything else. He was able to mathematically construct a hierarchy of value that identifies this universal structure of value, which is as immutable as the laws of gravity or motion. His hierarchy of value allows us to compare subjective perceptions and perspectives with the objective ideal. The basis of this discovery is his identification of three classes of value:

Systemic: These are thoughts that are conceptual and theoretical in nature and may involve systems, procedures, plans, and expectations. This is the class of value that is all about ideas and mental constructs; it is, mathematically, the lowest class of value. Good leadership characteristics that are systemic include:

  • Organized
  • Methodical
  • Analytical
  • Pragmatic
  • Compliant
  • Loyal

Extrinsic: These are thoughts that involve the practical and situational. Extrinsic things can be measured, compared, assessed, and identified. The tasks, metrics, and deliverables of a project would fall into this category. This is the middle class of value. Good leadership characteristics that are extrinsic include:

  • Goal-oriented
  • Productive
  • Effective
  • Persistent
  • Efficient
  • Encouraging

Intrinsic: These thoughts and values are personal and spiritual in nature. The intrinsic involves infinitely valuable things like people, knowledge, freedom, courage, and integrity. In a project, these are your team members, stakeholders, executive sponsors, and the other people who would be affected by the project. This is the highest and most “valuable” class of value. Good leadership characteristics that are intrinsic include:

  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Character
  • Compassion
  • Self-love
  • Self-acceptance

Example of Hierarchy of Value

Here is an example of choices that are aligned with the mathematical hierarchy of value.

  • Intrinsic (infinite properties): Caring for others
  • Extrinsic (limited properties): Giving to a charity
  • Systemic (is/is not): Being a (nationality)

You should care for people first, then donate to a charity, then be patriotic.

Three Types of Authority

These three classes of value can also be seen in the types of authority exhibited by project managers.

The first type of authority focuses on the rules and uses the systemic class of value. These authority types are usually called project administrators and will use the “stick” to motivate their team members. The second type focuses on the extrinsic, and this is the task master who will use a “carrot” to motivate (manipulate) his or her team members into completing his or her work. (Neither of these is necessarily “bad” but they are just inefficient.) The third type of manager is focused on the intrinsic—the people. This is the project leader who uses integrity to motivate his or her team. The project leader focuses on the people first, knowing that if you take care of the people, they will take care of the project.

Understanding Your Courage

What keeps you from being courageous?

  • Lack of knowledge of the natural laws of value
  • Lack of awareness of YOUR valuing habits
  • Lack of practice

One area in which knowledge can be lacking is in the hierarchy of value itself. When you transpose value, you take something of lesser value and perceive it to be more important than something of greater value. For instance, what would happen if you:

  • Put consistency above effectiveness?
  • Put being compliant above being compassionate?
  • Put encouragement above integrity?

Conform to the hierarchy of value and you will KNOW that you are adding value. Attempt to violate the hierarchy of value and you will be unsure. With uncertainty, there can be no courage!

So, how can you learn to be sure? How can you align your valuing habits with the natural law of value? How can you develop courageous, value-centered habits?

First, you must understand your own valuing habits. Do you have some valuing habits that aren’t aligned with your core values? Do you have valuing habits that aren’t aligned with the hierarchy of value?

Metaphor of Thinking/Valuing

You have “advisors” in your life: friends, family, mentors, peers, and even paid consultants may be your advisors. Some of your advisors may be very knowledgeable; others, however, are not. You can choose to listen to or ignore these advisors because they are just that … advisors.

Whether you realize it or not, you also have “advisors” in your mind. You have six very different and unique thought processes that influence your decisions, beliefs, attitudes, emotions, personality, behaviors, and, ultimately, the results in your life. The advisors correspond to Hartman’s three classes of value and how you perceive the two worlds you live in.

Your World View gives you advice on how your mind thinks you should function in the external world—from your skin out. Your Self View gives you advice on how your mind thinks you should value yourself—from your skin in. (See Exhibit 1)

World View/Self View

Exhibit 1 – World View/Self View

Before we continue, a key principle must be understood. You are not your thoughts or valuing habits. You are the observer. As a human being, you have the ability to watch your thoughts. You have the ability to follow the direction of a thought or ask your mind for another thought. The choice is yours.

Your Valuing Habits

Mathematically, the intrinsic is infinitely more valuable than the extrinsic. The extrinsic is infinitely more valuable than the systemic. As a project manager and leader, you are often encouraged to focus on the plans, processes, and procedures (the systemic value), along with the tasks, skills, abilities, and metrics (the extrinsic value) associated with the project and project personnel. After all, this is why the Project Management Institute (PMI) exists. PMI grew from the need for systemic practices. In 1969, five people gathered to pull together the best ideas and practices around project management. Over the years, PMI has matured by gathering and analyzing data to assemble metrics that tangibly demonstrate (extrinsically) the value of each of the best practices. It’s time to look at the intrinsic and all three classes of value as you develop your courage and become a better leader.

Measuring Critical Valuing Habits

Looking first at you, the project manager

As a leader, you have developed critical valuing habits over the years, which may have been developed intentionally or not. In either case, these habits impact your project management and how you think about change.

Identifying your misaligned valuing habits

Let’s examine each one of these six perspectives to give you an idea of the types of thoughts to look out for. As you read each one, consider how this thought process can impact your ability to be courageous.

Caring and Compassionate

These valuing habits deal with the capacity to accurately assess the intrinsic value of the people, processes, and plans around you. When misaligned, you may recognize the following tendencies:

  • You put up walls of resistance, are skeptical, cautious, and untrusting
  • You are resistant to rules and resentful of those who push their agenda
  • You are too tolerant and enabling of poor performers
  • You question the legitimacy or intent of another person’s requests

Practical and Pragmatic

These valuing habits deal with the capacity to accurately assess the extrinsic or tangible value of the people, processes, and plans around you. When misaligned, you may recognize the following tendencies:

  • Overvalue the looks, talents, and possessions of others
  • Too comfortable or uncomfortable trusting others
  • Compelled to make things “perfect” and tweak them
  • Easily distracted or intolerant of interferences

Perceptive and Systematic

These valuing habits deal with the capacity to accurately assess the systemic value of the people, processes, and plans around you. When misaligned, you may recognize the following tendencies:

  • Are closed and unsupportive of ideas that don’t agree with yours
  • Consistently point out the flaws in other people’s ideas
  • Uncomfortable or skeptical of people who don’t agree with your ideas
  • May overvalue or see little value in plans and schedules

Passion and Joy

These valuing habits deal with the capacity to accurately assess the intrinsic value of you, what you do, and the ideas you have. When misaligned, you may recognize the following tendencies:

  • You are discouraged from accepting yourself without condition or judgment
  • You find little joy in the journey
  • You think that you “have to,” “should,” or “must” do the things you do
  • You may feel lost or locked into a certain path

Satisfaction and Security

Your advisors deal with your capacity to understand, fully appreciate, and find joy, fulfillment, and value in the way you invest your life. When out of balance, an advisor:

  • Thinks that your self-worth is tied to how you look, the things you do, and/or the things you own
  • Feels obligated to sacrifice your time and energy to meeting the needs of others
  • Over focuses on recognition, awards, or compensation for validating your worth
  • Pursues perfection and “right” instead of excellence

Clarity and Balance

These thought habits run your capacity to be motivated, guided, and directed by a sense of meaning and purpose in everything you do. When out of balance, an advisor:

  • May believe that you are your ideas
  • Expects you to do too many things and do them all perfectly
  • Overly attached to expectations of how things should be
  • Resistant to trying new things or tries everything

Identifying your supporting valuing habits

The Hartman Value Profile

Robert S. Hartman, PhD, developed a tool that accurately measures the thought processes that influence human behavior and how you “see” change. The Hartman Value Profile (HVP) instrument is an axiological inventory that measures a person's capacity to make value judgments concerning the world and one's self It utilizes two sets of words and phrases. These words and phrases are the linguistic equivalents of axiological equations. (Hartman, nd)

Research has found that you think first, feel emotions second, and then you take action to achieve results. The HVP allows us to determine the root thinking/valuing style that lies at the base of your decision-making and pinpoints capacities you actually possess. The HVP is backed by hundreds of validity studies performed over the last fifty years, including EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) studies that lend great confidence to the fact that the profile instruments measure a person’s basic value structure and the dynamics of their value judgments.

The VQ Assessment

The Values Intelligence Quotient, or simply “VQ,” is a person’s capacity to make good value judgments. The VQ (Value Intelligence Quotient) Assessment Profile uses a proprietary application of the HVP in order to provide a clear and concise view of the thoughts that support or sabotage your efforts.

In order be more courageous, you must learn to respond to your balanced thoughts and perspectives and ignore your misaligned ones. Yet, in many cases when you are under pressure or stress you tend to react to the misaligned thoughts (which may sound louder or be more recognizable in your mind) before consciously hearing and choosing the balanced ones. To receive your free risk assessment, visit

Developing Your Courage

What would be different in your leadership if you could focus on the thoughts that add the greatest value? What would be different if you began to excel at using your balanced perspectives when making a decision? What if you could identify unsupportive ideas or reactions and choose the better thoughts from your more balanced perspectives instead? What if you were able to help your team members improve in a similar way?

Many times, our educational processes encourage us to focus on correcting our weaknesses. As you look at your VQ results, know that you cannot unthink a thought. You cannot simply erase a valuing habit. Those neural pathways have been created in your brain, and your thoughts like to travel along the well-worn pathways of your brain. You can, however, consciously replace those habits by creating stronger (supportive) habits, although it will take time and effort (and maybe a little outside coaching).

In order to replace your misaligned valuing habits, you must focus on your strengths. When you review your results, look at the perspective that is giving you the most aligned thoughts. This is the perspective that you want to choose to listen to during the pivotal moments of your day. Your aligned or balanced thoughts will help you put aside your own agenda (baggage) and allow you to fully step into the world and accurately assess reality. With this accurate assessment, you will be more confident and, hence, more courageous in your actions.

Example of Courage

This man had only18 months of formal education. He was an outstanding wrestler; however, he suffered many setbacks. His mom died when he was young and he lost multiple bids to be elected to office at the state and national levels. In 1860, he was elected the 16th President of the United States of America. In September of 1962, he signed one of the most important documents of this nation, the Emancipation Proclamation; when he signed it, Abraham Lincoln said, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper.” (Abraham Lincoln, 2010, Emancipation Proclamation ¶5) He was a man of great courage because he knew that his values and valuing habits were aligned with what was right.

President Lincoln went on to say, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.” (Abraham Lincoln, 2010, ¶1)

The Central Question

You will find you become more courageous as you focus on your natural strengths and answer this central question:

What choice can I make
or action can I take,
in this moment,
to add the greatest net value?

Learning to keep this question in the forefront of your thoughts and taking actions consistent with the best possible answer is a discipline practiced by all courageous leaders.

What would be different in your life if you consistently asked this question?
How many lives would you positively impact?
How productive and focused would you be?
This is what it would be like to be value centered!

Courageous leaders…

  • Focus on using their STRENGTHS, not fixing their weaknesses
  • Focus on the STRENGTHS of others, not their weaknesses
  • Focus on OPPORTUNITY more than risk
  • Focus on PRODUCTIVITY instead of perfection
  • Focus on consistently ADDING VALUE!!

Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward …with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.” - Og Mandino (Og Mandino, nd, ¶17)

Take Away Points

  • Don’t be a WIMP (weak, insecure, misaligned, pretentious, selfish)
  • You have the POWER to choose and to CHANGE.
  • New skills /habits require PRACTICE, not perfection.
  • Consistently ask the Central Question!
  • Become more value centered and your COURAGE will increase.
  • Take your free assessment by going to There is absolutely no obligation, no selling, no cost, and your results are completely confidential.

“Try not to become a man [or woman] of success but rather try to become a man [or woman] of value.” – Albert Einstein (Albert Einstein, nd.¶1)

Abraham Lincoln (July 7, 2010) In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 8, 2010 from

Abraham Lincoln (2010) In Brainy Quote Retrieved July 7, 2010 from

Albert Einstein (nd) In Retrieved July 8 2010 from

Benjamin Franklin, (2010) In Brainy Quote Retrieved July 8, 2010 from

Courage (2010) In Retrieved July 7, 2010 from

Demarest, P.D., Schoof, H.J. (2010). Valuecentrics: The heart and science of value-centered living. Philadelphia, PA: HeartLEAD Publishing.

Edwards, R.B., Davis, J.W. (1991). Forms of value and valuation: Theory and applications. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Hartman, R.S. (undated). The measurement of value, Retrieved March 13, 2009 from

Lewis, C.S. (nd) In The Quotations Page. Retrieved on July 7, 2010 from

Og Mandino In The Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame Retrieved July 8, 2010 from

Winston Churchill. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved on June 22, 2010 from

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2010, Traci Duez
Originally published as a part of 2010 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Washington, D.C.



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