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Terry Sterling Terry Sterling

Terry is a Certified Balanced Scorecard Master Professional and the Training Manager and Senior Associate with over 30 years of experience working in both the private and public sectors.

The Essential Four C’s of Leadership

By: Terry Sterling

Mar 27, 2019 2447 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

On November 14, 1965, Major Bruce Crandall and his flight of sixteen helicopters were lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam to a landing zone designated as “Landing Zone X-Ray”. After the fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopters came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission and return to base. Major Crandall made the determination the group of soldiers on the ground were in dire need of additional ammunition and made the decision to adjust his base of operations to a closer location to deliver this ammunition and evacuate soldiers who had been wounded.

Medical evacuation was not the assigned mission and Major Crandall sought volunteers to assist him. He and one other aircraft proceeded to Landing Zone X-Ray with complete disregard for their personal safety. Despite the intense, relentless engagement of the enemy, Major Crandall’s flight of two aircraft was successful in loading the seriously wounded and evacuating them to safety.

His voluntary actions motivated other pilots and instilled into them the will and spirit to follow his lead, thus resupplying ground forces with much needed supplies and providing a means for evacuating injured combatants. As a result of his leadership and perseverance, Major Crandall completed 22 flights on that day, providing critical resupply to the infantry battalion and saving numerous lives of injured soldiers by evacuating them to a location where they could be medically cared for.  His actions and demonstration of true leadership motivated others under his command into following his path and turn a series of hostile, extenuating circumstances into victory.

Aristotle referred to Courage as the first virtue of leadership. It is courage that makes all the other virtues of leadership possible. Being a leader often means being out in front; it means confronting reality and taking a hard look at your organization. What is the truth about our current state? It is about saying what needs to be said when it needs to be said. A lot of individuals shy away from confrontation and circumstances where there is a potential for conflict. Being able to have honest conversations help organizations work through issues, as painful as the trek might be. Major Crandall was more concerned with what he perceived was best for the mission, more so than his own personal safety or comfort. He was willing to make the decisions to get the job done.

Commitment is the second C of Leadership. As a leader, you have to be willing to do the hard things, even when not popular. This translates to being able to confront performance issues, whether they lie with people or processes. When process issues are ignored, they become toxic over time and have a negative impact on the performance of the organization. Dealing with these issues up front and directly have a long-term positive impact on both the organization and its culture.  Major Crandall disobeyed an order which could have had a detrimental impact on his career. Major Crandall wasn’t worried about his career. He was committed to getting much needed supplies to troops on the ground and evacuating those in need of medical care, regardless of the personal cost to him in terms of career, and even his life.

As with courage, leaders must be committed to the mission of the organization. Not only must they be committed, but they must be able to live and communicate their commitment to the rest of the organization for it to be successful. Leaders must be committed to the teams of individuals who work for them. Leadership isn’t about you!  It’s about the people you lead. It’s about believing in individuals and enabling them to be successful.  Major Crandall’s “leading by example” philosophy motivated others to follow his lead and make the mission successful. He took the responsibility for the decision, but his actions enabled others to contribute and perform by emulating his actions.

Another critical area in leadership is Consistency.  John Maxwell states, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” Consistency is what established our reputation not only as leaders, but also as organizations.

Customers and employees don’t want to be surprised. They want predictable results and outcomes. If I order a blue Chevrolet Corvette Z06, I don’t want a red Volkswagen Beetle.  Likewise, in the workplace, employees generally desire an environment where expectations are known, shared and not ambiguous. Leaders who do are not consistent create environments of fear, anxiety, insecurity and discontent. One of the most damaging things a leader can do is to say one thing and do something totally different 24 hours later.  It throws the entire organization into confusion. Major Crandall was very clear in his intent. Not only did he ask for volunteers and describe exactly what he was planning to do; he then did it 22 times in a single day.  His actions were consistent which resulted in others getting on board and seeing the value of what was being accomplished.

Finally, the fourth C of Leadership is Compassion. General Douglas MacArthur was quoted as saying, “A true leader has the confidence to stand along, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” 

Compassionate leaders seek to influence others, not demand, but encourage others towards success and opportunity.  Because of the innate nature of this leadership trait, when exercised, it provides the basic ingredients for forming a healthy work environment: stability and psychological safety. When employees feel they are in a safe environment, they are more willing to take risks which can result in more innovation in the workplace.

Compassionate leaders have a zeal for what they do. They believe in themselves, their organization and their people. Their actions inspire and motivate people to greatness. Major Crandall was compassionate about the circumstances the troops on the ground would face in a very near future if not resupplied. He was equally compassionate about ensuring those who were wounded while fighting for our country received an opportunity to receive medical care and survive. He translated his compassion into action which inspired many others to follow him and turn what could have been a very bad day into a very good one.

There are many other “C” attributes of leadership, Confidence, Character, etc., but in my way of thinking, the four listed here are critical for any leader to be successful, whether in industry or in life.

Sources:
Brandon Wenerd, brobible.  Retrieved from: https://brobible.com/life/article/30-american-military-badasses/

Bill Treasurer, Entrepreneurs’ Organization.  Retrieved from: https://www.eonetwork.org/octane-magazine/special-features/courageisthekeytogreatleadership

John Mawell, What’s So Critical About Simple, Daily Practices?  Retrieved from: http://blog.johnmaxwell.com/blog/whats-so-critical-about-simple-daily-practices 

Kevin Eikenberry, Leadership & Learning.  Retrieved from: https://blog.kevineikenberry.com/leadership-supervisory-skills/three-commitments-leaders-must-make/

Douglas MacArthur. Retrieved from: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/359193-a-true-leader-has-the-confidence-to-stand-alone-the

Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 10

By: Wes Balakian

Mar 6, 2019 797 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Refusing to Ask for Help

One of the most common mistakes made by inexperienced project managers is the belief that asking for help will make them seem incompetent in the eyes of their peers and management. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good project managers know their limitations and always see out help at the earliest possible time.

Refusing to seek out help can result in schedule slippages, and cost overruns. If the project manager delays too long in seeking help, the number of options to correct the problem can diminish. Sponsors should encourage project managers to ask for help at the earliest possible time, but not to expect the sponsor to be the dumping ground for all problems that the project manager cannot resolve. Remember the story of the Titanic the “unsinkable” ship. How many more would have survived if the Captain called for help the minute they struck the iceberg?

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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 9

By: Wes Balakian

Feb 28, 2019 903 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Not Fully Understanding Requirements

The more inexperienced the project manager, the greater the likelihood the project manager will use his/her interpretation of the requirements rather than consulting with the subject matter experts. This can lead to misdirection in the technical approach and expensive changes in the later stages of the project.

There are underlying issues that can create this problem, the most prevalent one being the timing of when to bring the project manager on board. The 6th edition of the PMBOK® Guide discusses understanding stakeholder requirements. Oftentimes, it is not the project manager that directly interfaces with the stakeholders initially but more so sales and marketing personnel that may be required to prepare a proposal as part of competitive bidding. The project manager then inherits the requirements and may not be fully aware of the assumptions that went into the preparation of the proposal. The sooner a project manager can become involved in a project the better. When they understand what success is supposed to look like they will make it happen.


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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 8

By: Wes Balakian

Feb 20, 2019 596 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Failing to Understand What Stakeholders and Sponsors Want to Hear

One of the requirements to pass the PMP® exam is an understanding of Cost Management and more specifically, the formulas attributed to earned value measurement. Although there is obviously merit in this, earned value measurement is only part of what stakeholders and sponsors want to hear. It is imperative that, as part of stakeholder management, project managers interview the stakeholders to learn what information they deem as important.

Every stakeholder may want a different set of tracking metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). The project manager may then find it necessary to develop a different performance dashboard for each stakeholder. This could incur significant costs if not planned for in the budget.


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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 7

By: Wes Balakian

Feb 13, 2019 749 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Gold-plating the Deliverables

Most project managers want to placate the customer. However, there are limits as to how far the project manager should go. Gold-plating the deliverables after the scope has been agreed to can be very costly. In addition, the customer might be led to believe that they can get these gold-plated “add-ons” for free on future projects because the new standard had been set. Do not fall into this habit as it will inevitably will come back to haunt you.


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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 6

By: Wes Balakian

Feb 6, 2019 632 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Failing to Share Accountability with Functional Managers

In the early years of project management, project managers possessed a command of technology. During staffing activities, project managers negotiated for specific resources which were then placed under the technical direction of the PM rather than the functional manager. The functional manager still retained administrative control over the resources. Today, project managers have just an understanding of technology and therefore negotiate with functional managers for deliverables rather than people.

When negotiating for deliverables, the functional resources still remain under the direct supervision and control of the functional manager. Under this scenario, the functional managers must be willing to share responsibility for the success with the project manager.

Inexperienced project managers believe that they have single person accountability and responsibility for the project’s success. It is a mistake for the project manager not to share this responsibility with the functional managers. Sometimes, executive support is necessary to enforce this shared accountability because it might not be part of the corporate culture.


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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 5

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 29, 2019 724 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Ignoring Problems

All projects have problems. Inexperienced project managers believe that sufficient time exists to solve these problems only to discover that the costs of correcting these problems later on in the project life cycle was significantly more expensive than making the repairs in the earlier stages of the project. Remember the 1-10-100 rule. What costs $1.00 to fix in requirements costs $10.00 to fix in planning and $100.00 to fix after the project is delivered.

Project managers cannot be selective in which problems to solve. All project problems must be addressed, and the sooner the better. While it is true that project managers may not be able to solve the problems themselves, they should at least know what subject matter experts they need to address the issues.


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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 4

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 23, 2019 720 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Over-reliance on Repeatable Processes

Companies may spend years creating an enterprise project management (EPM) methodology. The intent is that the methodology will be used on all projects for all customers and from cradle to grave. While the intent has merit, EPM methodologies do not account for every possible problem that can exist on every project. Having blind faith in the expectation that repeatable processes will solve your problems is a mistake. Repeatable processes appear in the form of guidelines, forms, templates and checklists. Repeatable processes are NOT a replacement or substitute for management attention, effective decision-making, or problem-solving. They are simply tools for the PM to use, and as we all know, projects are managed by people rather than tools. Today there are many options to deliver strategic projects using different methods such as agile.


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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 3

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 14, 2019 893 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Preparing an Overly Ambitious Schedule

The more inexperienced the project manager, the more optimistic he or she becomes when preparing the schedule baseline. While ambitious schedules are nice to have, they are often unrealistic and can make matters worse. Customers are never told that the schedule is ambitious and therefore believe the schedule is realistic. The customers then focus on the milestone dates and now, when the milestones slip from ambitious to reality, you have an unhappy customer who wonders what other surprises will show up next.

Another factor to consider is the impact on the functional estimates. Ambitious schedules may require team members to perform at a higher position on the learning curve thus changing the functional standards. Functional managers may not want their estimates and standards to be changes. Also, ambitious schedules may require the company’s best functional workers to be assigned to the project and this may be unrealistic. Doing this also takes valuable resources from finishing a project on time and becoming available to another project due to poor time estimations.

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