Leadership Isn’t a 9-5 Job

LegoLeaderLeadership is not a 9-5 job, nor is it an 8-5 job if you take a lunch nor even a 7-6 job if you give a little extra. I know what you’re probably thinking, “of course it isn’t just 8-5, you should bet to work early, stay late, and be willing to work harder so your team doesn’t have to!” I tell you, that you are absolutely correct, and I agree with you 100%. A local business man, who is very well known here in Oklahoma City, is quoted as saying, “I work five to eight, so you only have to work eight to five.” What a remarkable showing of leadership. His car was always there, even on the weekends. That man put an insane amount of hours into his companies. Perhaps that is why he was able to build two different multi-billion dollar companies and end up with a net worth of almost $1.2 billion himself, but there is more to it than that.

During your time at work, you, as a leader (by title or not), are constantly doing what you can to help your team succeed. You never ask you team for thanks, you give them all of the credit and shoulder all of the issues. It can be a thankless job but is very rewarding to see others grow in their profession. There is still more to it, though.

My point with this post, however, actually has nothing to do with all of that. Remember, I started out by saying leadership was not an 8-5 job. What I meant, is that as a leader, you really never get a break. What happens when you go home? Guess what? You are expected to be a leader there too. All too often, however, I witness guys going home and putting away all of their servant leadership qualities for . . . wait for it . . . the micro-manager. Constantly getting on our kids for things not being done right, or even being a bit impatient.

AH – NO – DON’T. DO. IT!

What is worse, is that a lot of times, we as parents, find ourselves saying things like, “I just wish they would be more grateful for what I have done for them,” or, “I wish they could be content for what I have provided to them.”

So, let me get this straight. At work, you are patient with your team and do what you can to help them. You give them space do learn, or even fail (which is also learning). You work side by side with them, in the trenches, together, with a common goal. You never expect as much as a “thank you” as you feel that their success is thanks enough. When you go home, however, you bark at your kids, hovering over them at every moment to make sure they are coloring in the lines. When you do something nice, you expect them to be grateful to you.

Please allow me to get a little personal with you for a minute. As I re-read my words above, I can’t help but think, “guilty as charged!” You see, the “you” above, is also me. I wrote this because sometimes I see things in myself that I don’t like. As my children enter into their teenage years, their lives and attitudes can become more and more challenging. This calls for all of the servant leadership skills we can mettle. They need us now more than ever. You see, we should be patient with our kids as they grow. We should help shape them by our example and guidance rather than our instructions and negative feedback. What’s more, and this was probably my “gotcha” moment, is that we have a strong desire for our kids to be grateful to us for everything we do for them. As I was contemplating this post, I became convinced that I am not the right person my kids need show gratefulness to. I certainly don’t want them to be ungrateful, but they should not be grateful, necessarily, to me. As a Christian, I am called to raise my kids to be children of God. This means I want them to be grateful to God, who is our provider. I am merely acting as His hands to give them what He essentially provided to me to be a steward of in the first place. I don’t expect my employees to be grateful to me, why should I expect my children to be? Am I wanting to raise a bunch of booty smoochers? No, but that is what it amounts to when we expect them to be “oh so grateful” to us. They should not be smooching my booty or anyone else’s. If we teach them that, they will never be strong enough to be leaders themselves. Please don’t get me wrong, they need to be thankful and grateful for what they have. If they aren’t, they may not understand the value of the things they are given and could even be seen or labeled as spoiled brats, even as adults. Instead, I want my kids to be grateful to the One who really provides. Let them be thankful to God.

I encourage you, as leaders, moms and dads, to evaluate your thinking and your attitudes when you go home. Be honest with yourself and ask if anything needs to change. It’s okay to be less than perfect. It’s okay to make adjustments at half-time and come back out a better team. Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we will catch excellence.” If we strive to be perfect parents, we will never get there, but will end up being excellent parents in the mean-time and that’s not so bad, is it? Perhaps this is one way you can strive for perfection. Show your kids the leadership you show  your team. After all, your kids are on your team, right? Guide them, don’t just instruct them. Nurture them by allowing them to experiment and fail, and become their own people. Get in the trenches with them and do and learn things together. It will help make them better people, and who knows, it might make you an even better leader as you strive for perfection!

What are some areas that you’ve struggled with as a leader or as a parent? I’d love to get your feedback.

Thanks for reading and happy leading!

Project Management vs. Project Leadership

Project Leadership vs. Project Management

Being a project manager has been a very rewarding experience for me over the last 15+ years. Whether practicing the science of project management, learning about it, writing about it or talking/tweeting about it, I have truly enjoyed almost every aspect of it.

I see a transformation coming, however, and no, I’m not talking about Agile vs. Waterfall or the newest release of the PMBoK. The transformation I am witnessing is a movement to project leadership.

The science of managing projects is fairly straight forward.  No, I did not say easy, with good reason. Project management requires a specific set of skills and talents to take a project from conception to close within a specific timeframe and budget. Practicing the art project leadership, however, goes much deeper, into the realm of relationships. If you dig in and form solid, working relationships with your team, you will allow them to be rewarded as much as you are.

Consider these attributes:

  • Give all the credit: It is critical to remember that you are the project leader, not the team. Your team is who is doing the work. Your team has the expertise. Give them high praises when they do well. Praise individuals, praise small groups, and praise the entire team, and praise publicly.
  • Take the blame: Troubles are going to happen; it is a given when it comes to projects – regardless of what they are. Budgetary items will come in higher than expected, delays in the schedule are going to occur, and quality may come in sub-par. Don’t throw Bill under the bus for that typo in the code, or Jack for misunderstanding the requirements, or Sally, who forgot to get a quote on a critical piece of infrastructure. When reporting, state the facts – but leave names out of it. When asked, put yourself in as a shield between management and the team. By doing so, you will build and environment of trust, not only with your team, but with management as well.

Don’t get me wrong; if a correction needs to be made, don’t wast the opportunity for a teachable moment.

  • Equip Them: Your team already has a tough job. Each team member was brought in because they have a specific skill-set that is necessary to fulfill the requirements. As a project leader, you need to do everything you can to make sure the team has the tools they need in order to fulfill their duties. We’ve all heard the phrase “the right tool for the right job.” That saying goes beyond building a house or working on a car. Having the proper software, adequate hardware, the right saws, a working micrometer, is all critical to the success of any team. If you fight for your team to make sure they have what they need, they will perform well; not only because they have the proper tools, but because they want to! Even if you can’t get everything they need, they will work harder for you because they know you are on their side.

This is only scratching the surface. What other qualities do you think would be great project leadership traits?

This post was originally posted to my LinkedIn Pulse page. It has been modified and updated for this site.