Your best asset
ALFONSO BUCERO, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
You can significantly affect your project, your organization and your career by building credibility step-by-step.
Organizations need project managers who are honest, competent and can inspire others. When you make a promise, keep it. When you commit to a meeting, be there. Credibility is built through little details such as these. In project management, credibility has to do with your reputation: You must earn it over time. It does not come automatically with a job or a title.
To take people to places they have never been before (achieving project results), project leaders and the team must be on the same path. And to get people to join the voyage of discovery voluntarily, project managers must ensure their aims and aspirations are in harmony with those of their teams. When project managers simply command, they are not leading, they are dictating.
Project team members expect their leaders to have the courage of their convictions and to stand up for their beliefs.
To strengthen your credibility, I recommend attention to:
Sharpness. Clarify your commitment, needs, interests, values, visions and project objectives. Ensure that you understand those same qualities in your team members. Credible leaders must build a shared vision and values, so a clear, common understanding will lay the foundation for your project.
Harmony. Communicate goals, direction and the principles that guide your actions. Harmony exists when team members widely share, support and endorse the intent of the commonly understood set of aims and aspirations.
Passion. People who feel strongly about their values will act on them. Passion exists when principles are taken seriously, when they reflect deep feelings, standards and emotional bonds, and when they are the basis of critical organizational resource allocations.
When I asked project leaders across Europe to give me specific examples of what their most admired leaders do to gain respect, trust and a willingness to be influenced, the most frequently mentioned behaviors are: he/she supported me, challenged me, listened to me, celebrated good work, trusted me, empowered others, shared the project vision, admitted mistakes, advised others, taught well and were patient. These traits cross all borders.
Authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner define six disciplines of credibility [Credibility, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993], and I have adapted them for use by project managers:
Exploring Yourself: Look into the mirror and ask yourself questions like: Who are you? What do you believe in? What do you stand for? Once clear on your own values, translate them into a set of guiding principles that you communicate to the team you want to lead.
Be Sensitive: Leadership implies a relationship, and you will only be able to build that relationship on mutual understanding and respect. Team members believe in their leaders when they believe the leaders have their best interests at heart.
Confirming Shared Value: Project leaders show others how everyone's individual values and interests can be served by coming to consensus on a set of common values. Confirm a core of shared values passionately and speak enthusiastically on behalf of the project.
Developing Capacity: Project managers must develop the capacity of their team members to keep their commitments. Assure that educational opportunities exist for individuals to build their knowledge and skill.
Serving a Purpose: Leadership is a service provided to the team on behalf of the organization.
Sustaining Hope: Teams need a positive attitude in troubling times of transition. People with high hopes also are high achievers.
Project team members expect their leaders to have the courage of their convictions and to stand up for their beliefs. Realize that, day-by-day, the best way to build credibility on your project is to “walk the talk.” PM
Alfonso Bucero, PMP, is an independent consultant who manages projects throughout Europe and Asia. He is the author of Project Management—A New Vision and contributor to Creating the Project Office.
PM NETWORK ❘ SEPTEMBER 2005 ❘ WWW.PMI.ORG