I had a harsh and life changing realisation in 2021 having 100 projects being managed across varying project stages. To the outside world I was successful, going places, at the top of my game.
Behind closed doors, I was secretly struggling with a debilitating health issue that was taking all my energy and zapping my brain power. No matter how health focused I was nothing seemed to address the underlying issue which I soon realised stemmed from emotions and stress (sound familiar?).
I realised I was a people pleaser. This is no doubt what made me well respected project manager. I was the go-to guy for serious issues that needed solving—people knew me as the guy to fix things. It gave me strength sharing these abilities but I eventually found I began to lack motivation to help as my health got worse.
My revelation: it’s important to care. It’s important to make an impact and deliver extraordinary results as the project manager. It’s important to solve complicated problems. But it is absolutely vital and imperative you don’t take responsibility for other people’s jobs.
As project managers we have to be across so much finite detail. Technical knowledge is stretched across so many different facets and you have to be energetic, motivated, self-starting, organised at a high level of detail all the time. Holding it all together creates a type of adrenalin. It gives you a natural high as a building rises from the ground to become this monumental physical structure that you drive past with a sense of accomplishment.
After 16 years of doing project management I noticed there were three key blocks that had gone unnoticed for me: pride, vanity and ego.
1) Pride is having a pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements to the link for that was the high of keeping projects together and seeing them completed.
2) Vanity is excess admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements so again it’s the pride in picking up the slack when nobody else can.
3) Ego is the self-esteem, the identification with this behaviour and using the knowledge of being the problem solver as a sense of self.
In helping out, I wasn’t doing anybody any favours.
The exchange of expertise, communication, collaboration, energy, wisdom, caring should all be equal to the role and responsibility of individuals on the project. I knew to truly improve as a project manager and to get better results and create a higher performing conscious project management firm, I had to change this. To fix it you have to empower team members to be aligned, hold similar values, do what they say they are going to do, do what they are responsible for. This enables project teams to operate in harmony, flow and with momentum. This is easier said than done considering the vast number of stakeholders on any one project, but it’s something I feel truly passionate about and believe is the next realm of project management – #teamwork because let’s face it – that delivers the dream results everybody is chasing.