Many years ago, I had the joy of attending a character and citizenship awards banquet. A colleague of mine was being honored for her consistent embodiment of good character. She happens, not coincidentally, I think, to also be an outstanding business analyst who is often sought out by others as a mentor. It was splendid, and I still remember it to this day.
As I was attending this event, I learned more about the program CHARACTER COUNTS!
The program is rooted in Iowa and in the goal of fostering character development within our youth and our communities. It has since, over the past decade or so, found success around the country. At the banquet, I remember being struck by the number of educators, coaches, and community leaders among those who were recognized, and saddened by the lack of individuals noted who are in roles just like ours. In response, I decided to begin fostering these same six pillars among the project managers I coach and mentor, as I found that they are very present in the ideals that I already try to nurture.
It has been some time since I last wrote about the six pillars that make up the CHARACTER COUNTS! program, so I wanted to re-share them and how I believe they relate to us as project managers and coaches!
I believe this means being honest, demonstrating integrity, keeping our promises, and remaining loyal!
As a Project Manager, our teams should be able to look to us to give them honest and accurate information, and to stand by them and our decisions. I believe this means that our team and our sponsors can be confident that we will do what we say we will do, and that we will treat even the most sensitive situations with utmost integrity and care, from start to finish.
I believe this means valuing people and their differences, living by the Golden Rule, respecting others' dignity, privacy, and freedom, being courteous and polite, and avoiding violence and outbursts!
It’s about fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect. Each team member brings value to the table, and that means they’re afforded respect and feel included. People have different communication styles and needs for the level at which their activities are directed, and will behave accordingly. It’s our job to match and meet these needs, so everyone can be comfortable in their working environment.
I believe it’s better to diffuse tense situations or conflict with peace and compassion, with a focus on how to grow forward together, rather than where to assign the blame. Politeness also goes a long way, like saying "Please" when we ask our team members do to something, and "Thank you" when they do it. Treat others the way we want to be treated.
I believe this means doing our duty, pursuing excellence, exercising self-control, planning and setting goals, choosing a positive attitude, being accountable, self-reliant, proactive, persistent, reflective, and consistently setting a good example for our peers!
We should remain responsible of the things we have control over. If the project doesn’t meet the set goals, we are ultimately accountable. I recommend planning and setting reasonable and attainable goals for each team member, ourselves, and the whole project. Measuring progress proactively, persistently, and publicly enables all members of the project to stay on top of things. Anticipate risks and obstacles and take the initiative to address them before they have a chance to grow. A positive attitude, and continual reflection on what our team learned and encountered throughout and after a project, can help us become better leaders for the future. And I believe that any experience is good experience for future matters.
I believe this means listening, being consistent, open, and careful not to judge others, following fair procedures, regularly applying pre-established rules, and treating people equally equitably, and just!
Our expectations when working on projects should be clear - clearly communicated, clearly documented - and fair. It’s a good bet that our team is capable and willing, unless or until it’s proven otherwise; so, we should give them the benefit of the doubt! Treat each team member equitably and consistently, playing favorites doesn’t usually end with good results. If we are known for demonstrating consistent, sound judgment and decision making, then we can inspire a positive work ethic for those reporting to us!
I believe this means being compassionate, kind, considerate, empathetic, unselfish, forgiving, loving, and grateful!
When our leadership demonstrates compassion, it’s a good way to earn trust. This also comes about if we seek ways to serve our team, helping them and making life and work easier for others. Saying "thank you," often, and meaning it, also demonstrates that we recognize the teamwork that went into our successes: We didn’t do our projects alone, after all! I suggest criticizing privately, and only when there's no better way to correct. On the flip side, it’s good to praise publicly and often. Making an example out of someone can breed feelings of animosity. Rather than holding grudges or reminding people of past mistakes, apply the learnings and move on. Contrary to popular belief, I believe we can be both a friend as well as a leader.
I believe this means being a good citizen, doing your share, helping the community, playing by the rules, and respecting authority and law!
And finally, as a Project Manager, our role is to set an example of operating in the best interest of the organization and championing the greater good. At Your Clear Next Step, this is a big part of our Changemakers program. Abiding by the rules, guidelines, and standards of our organizations and our communities sets a good example for others to follow! We can demonstrate respect to those in authority. Volunteering our time and skills for service or community-based organizations in our area, and encouraging our team to volunteer with us, can build camaraderie and team morale. This also demonstrates that we are proud members of the wider community and to aim work in its interest!
Within the discipline of project management, we come from all sorts of backgrounds, and all walks of life. We have much to offer, and each of us carries our fair share of battle scars and baggage. But with each day, we have an opportunity to lead - we lead projects, but more importantly, we lead people. That’s why I believe that Your Clear Next Step can make every day even better, every time we deliver coaching, training, or any of our other offerings. No one experience is better than the last, as they all have a purpose to serve and a lesson to teach. So, we do our best to give our all to our projects to ensure that they reach the right audiences.
I hope that these tenets can help you find your own way, and if you have additional ones or questions, please feel free to reach out! We’d love to hear more!