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Helping Project Managers to Help Themselves

Lonnie Pacelli
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Article Summary: 

Helping Project Managers to Help Themselves

Vera and Tam have just left their manager Walt's office and are left with no idea of what he wants and when he wants it done. Tam suggests they stay low and do nothing, while Vera suggests they have Thai for lunch. The message is that good leadership means ensuring clarity on why, what, how, who, and when and ensuring you as the leader don't over- or under-function in how you lead followers. The Straight A's of Intentional Leadership, as follows: Articulate the Why, align on the What, advise on the How, hold accountable the Who, and agree on the When. Following the straight A rule helps ensure leaders and followers understand why something is important to do, what needs to be done, what constraints need to be considered during execution, who needs to do it, and when.

It is important to articulate the why, align on the what, be as quantitative as possible, be collaborative and not dictatorial, and advise on the how. More experienced followers will generally need less direction; less experienced followers will most likely need more direction. The leader should ensure that their followers understand the constraints and adheres to them. They should also hold accountable the who, agree on the when, ensure clarity on the due date expectation and the practical consequences of not hitting it, and provide guidance on priority relative to other priorities. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

Leaders should give followers an opportunity to assess the work involved and come back to them with what they need to meet the due date. If the due date is impossible to achieve, instruct followers to provide what, if anything, can be done by the due date and an alternate plan to meet the what. Ignoring the 5 A's can lead to missed or delayed dates, misaligned expectations, and poor leader work/life balance. Leaders should be proactive in providing clarity and communicate any date expectations.


managing others, managing employees, how to manage others, project management, effective communication, teamwork, leadership skills, how to lead others

Source Citation: 
Lonnie Pacelli
Helping Project Managers to Help Themselves
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