A Leadership Opportunity

Joab joined Jonathan and Samuel at the next mentoring session. “I asked Joab to join us this morning to talk about the way forward,” Samuel said. “The PMO approved the project charter out of cycle, but I want you two to brief the project management plan and the design at the Steering Committee meeting.”

“Saul usually briefs both of those,” said Jonathan.

“It’s another process improvement,” Samuel said, “and it’s a leadership opportunity for both of you.”

“Saul will be there,” Joab said. “And the PMO is going to, ah, eat us alive.”

“No they won’t,” Jonathan said with confidence. “I know those guys. We have time, and we’ll be ready.”

“I love it,” Samuel said. “I want you guys wearing suits for your presentation. And make sure you both attend the leadership training HR emailed you about before execution starts.”

Stay Out of the Way

Two weeks later, Joab and Jonathan attended the Steering Committee meeting to brief their project.

“What’s this?” Alva asked, looking at Jonathan’s and Joab’s suits. “You guys look great!”

“What’s Joab doing here?” asked Saul.

“Don’t you worry about it,” said Samuel. “Come out in the hallway with me. I need to talk to you.”

“What’s this all about?” Saul said, standing outside the conference room.

“Saul, I appreciate everything you’ve done for JTS,” Samuel said, looking at the floor. “All the sacrifice, the late hours. You made the company a lot of money.”

Samuel looked up at Saul and continued. “But we need to change our leadership culture to be successful in the long term. We can’t keep losing good people and barely breaking even. You’re not going to drive Joab away, and you’re not going to diminish Jonathan’s potential.”

“What do you know about Jonathan?” Saul said. “He’s MY son!”

“Then be a better example, Saul! You’re sidelined when it comes to Jonathan’s KM project,” Samuel said, pointing his finger at Saul. “Stay out of the way.”

Samuel turned and walked into the conference room. Saul frowned, but followed him.

Samuel walked to the head of the conference table and addressed the group. “One of my favorite proverbs is, ‘Like the horizons for breadth and the ocean for depth, the understanding of a good leader is broad and deep,’” he said. “Project managers and leaders bring their full human experiences to their craft. We manage processes and activities, but we lead people. This requires connecting with people’s hearts so that they choose to follow us. An IT project leader needs a broad, and sometimes deep, understanding of technology, management, psychology, and communications to connect with and positively influence people from diverse backgrounds, people who are team members and stakeholders.

“Gaining this understanding is not easy, but it is possible. It is a breadth and depth of understanding we gain over time through experience and continuous learning, expressed and demonstrated through our writing, speaking, and the example we set by how we behave and how we treat others. At JTS, we will learn to develop and support our employees, especially those with leadership potential. We will learn to treat our employees as well as we treat our customers. Those who lead the company to success will enjoy recognition and prosperity.

“Today, Jonathan and Joab will brief you on their project for the first time, taking an important step on their IT leadership journeys. I expect you to give them your full support, to help them improve and be successful, and to give them the same respect that you give me. Does anyone object to anything I’ve said?”

Applause erupted like a volcano, and Saul sat silent and red-faced.

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