Penny Pullan is the co-author of "A short guide to facilitating risk management" and a contributor to the "Gower Handbook of People in Project Management".
I learnt how to get things done through others
Project mangers tend to get overloaded and then think that the solution is to go flat out doing all the work themselves and jettison all the important things like stakeholder engagement and communication as nice to have but not enough time for! I personally fell into this trap years ago, when I was less experienced and given a big chance to take on a major project. The project in question was already late, hadn’t delivered anything and I was the third project manager. In short, it was failing. Those of you who are more experienced than I was then will see many danger signals, but for me, it was my first big chance. I relished the opportunity to deliver something big. The project team’s motivation was rock bottom after all the delay, changes in project manager and lack of delivery, and within a couple of weeks starting, all of the rest of the team had resigned. All of a sudden, I was both project manager and project team! There was so much work to do that I stopped communicating with stakeholders, bar sending out hundreds of e-mails each day, and put my head down to get everything done. Needless to say, overload followed. The project delivered a good product just before the deadline, but it wasn’t fun. I had put the doing of the project work (by me as it turns out) above the need to influence others to get things done.
A few years after this poisonous project, the lessons I’d learned so painfully about getting things done through others were bearing fruit. By this time, I was programme manager for a global endeavor involving the United Nations, government ministers and directors of multinational companies as key stakeholders. As before, when I joined, the programme was running late and hadn’t yet delivered. This time, within six months, we’d delivered the key product. Did I say that only 50% of my time was allocated to this global programme? What a difference! So what was it that made the difference? By then, I knew how to get things done through others, even those who were much more senior than me and in different organizations and even based on different continents. My transformation had begun by learning lessons from the overload and frustration of my earlier project. I had modeled what I saw the very best project managers doing and found what worked. I was also lucky enough to have a coach and mentor and had developed very strong facilitation skills over the years. – Penny Pullan, co-author and editor of several project management books
Co-creating is the most engaging way of relating to others
Leading a team is way more than telling. Telling someone what to do is the least engaging way to relate to others, closely followed by selling. Much more engaging are consulting and (best) co-creating. – Penny Pullan, co-author and editor of several project management books