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Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ancient History of the Boss

Hundreds of tough-looking men stand around in a clearing in the North Woods, obviously waiting for something. Then a smallish guy walks into the clearing, goes up to the biggest, meanest-looking of the men and knocks him flat with a single punch.
The onlookers nod approvingly to one another, and a murmur goes through the crowd: “Must be the new boss.”

Would that establishing authority and leadership were so simple today! Well, it’s not. Many members of any Project Team can have sophisticated skills utterly different from those of the Project Manager. In fact, the very defining work of the Project can be common to Team members, but not the Project Manager. Such professionals can be difficult to lead – but Project success is impossible without accomplishing that.

It can be done. A veteran worker in a skilled trade, now in training to add Project Manager expertise, recalled his puzzlement a few years earlier when a Project Manager was added to an organization in which this senior contributor typically had a leading role.

He ignored the Project Manager for the next two or three Projects, then somehow was convinced to make use of the man’s knowledge and experience. His eyes were quickly opened, and that is why he decided to get Project Management training himself.

It is unfortunate that, in many organizations, such moments of revelation never occur. The Project Manager operates as digger-in-chief in a pick-and-shovel environment characterized more by devotion to good old-fashioned hard work than better up-to-date smart work.

While nothing is simple in love and war, life and Project Management, there is a relatively straightforward solution for the Project Manager.

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