The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.
I found Max’ characterization of a leader’s responsibilities very refreshing. Most definitions I had studied talk about having a vision, influencing people, and getting work done.
I thought about what Define Reality meant and whether it was applicable to Project Managers (PM) and Technical Leaders (TL) working on a software project. The concept made a lot of sense and I felt it was a great way of looking at a leader’s responsibility. I tried to brainstorm various ways in which PMs and TLs could define reality on a project and came up with the following list:
- Clearly understand what they know and do not know
- Ensure that stakeholders clearly understand what is happening on the project
- Set clear expectations with team members on what needs to be accomplished and when
- They are congruent and do not feel afraid or embarrassed to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions
- Understand the constraints (time/schedule, money, scope, personnel, resources) facing the project
- I also felt that “Define Reality” was a process. The PM or TL has to perform the following activities throughout the course of the project:
- Understand as accurately as they possibly can all the aspects that affect the success of the project –
- Ensure that they communicate this understanding to all stakeholders
- Refine their understanding of the project as they go along by being open to any pertinent information