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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

What Do You Value??

“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”  Niccolo Machiavelli

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”  Voltaire

I thought it would be interesting to spend some time discussing the “Human Resource” side of Project Management.  While the focus in projects tends to be on technical issues such as Earned Value, Risk Management, Precedence Diagram Method, etc., projects are run by people!  Math is math, but leadership generally makes the difference.

I am going to spend the next few posts going over the science of leadership. We will talk about organizational management and get into some of the great theories (Hertzberg, McGregor, McClelland and of course, Maslow).  I'll explore how their theories have implications for the management of your project, and we will spend some time looking at small group dynamics and some of the recommended tools and techniques.

But does it matter?

Let me ask the question this way. How does your organization define “leadership”? Do they reward leadership? Anywhere?  What do they value in leaders?  In Projects?

I once worked for a fairly dysfunctional organizational, but haven't all of you at one time or another? Many years have passed, those leaders are all gone and it has since been reorganized, so did it really matter?  Well, it seemed important at the time!  The senior leaders (of which I was one) were concerned because the employees expressed some displeasure with the direction of the organization.  We held a series of meetings to determine the “root cause” and develop and “action plan” to “show we listened”!

Which got us nowhere…

This situation had caught the attention of even more senior leaders and they wanted answers!  Since we didn't really have any, we did what any rational team would do – we hired a consultant.

Leadership consultants are a particular and exotic breed!  If you are one, good on you! 

They have a variety of different methods and processes, and I have seen many of them.  I was prepared for whatever they threw at me!  Would it be a “ropes” course where physical distress was used to identify management traits and enhance a sense of team?  Perhaps they would place me in a chair and having my colleagues identify my faults.  Would it be a clinical analysis of a disaster from the past, learning from those mistakes so we could avoid them in the present?  Would we be building “touch stones” to reach deeply into our inner selves?  Heck, I was even ready for the “stand under the animal that best represents you” exercise!  I was ready!

But this consultant asked a simple question that I never forgot: “What is valued where you work?  Is it loyalty?  Hard work?  Technical excellence?  What do you reward?”  What you reward is what you get!

In this instance, the answer was “conformance”.  But that is a different story. For a different time.  With an ending you can still watch on YouTube if you have an interest in such things.

But the question is profound.  

What do you value in your organization?


I don’t post my political thoughts on any social media.  I have this policy primarily because of common sense legal reasons.  I also don't want to present a one-sided rant about complex issues and I personally don’t think anyone of substance has ever had their opinion changed by a bumper sticker.  While I don’t offer an opinion about politics, the press coverage of “tax reform” is interesting because of the language that is used.  Specifically, the fact pattern that the US has a “class” system.  The US doesn't have a “class” system in the sense that one’s ultimate fate is determined by the family you are born into.  Rich people go broke, poor people get rich and almost everyone finds themselves moving up or down the economic ladder based primarily on the choices they make.  Class is an artificial construct that began well before Plato’s "The Republic" attempted to codify it in a governing philosophy.  So trying to help one “class” of people at the expense of another strikes me as odd, especially when the population within the "classes" is ever shifting.  Why don’t we just create an environment where everyone can succeed?


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