Category Archives: coaching

The Impossible Dream: When Vision Kills Execution

Vision Overload Can Kill Execution

Some of my best leadership insights come not from the moments when I’m the leader, but from those when I’m being led. And I’m not talking about those fleeting inspirational hot-flashes that come when witnessing a moving speaker at a big conference. What’s more, when I’m being led well, I may not even notice… but when I’m being led astray, that’s when I really learn. I suppose living it is learning it, so long as you take time to stop and smell the dog poop.

And what “I now know for sure” (to co-opt Oprah Winfrey’s line) is that good leadership is sometimes about what NOT to do— a YinYang balance of push and restraint. Continue reading

Project Metrics: The Double-Edged Sword

Metrics can swing both ways

Metrics can slice both ways!

We all know that metrics are critical to running a business. We need those leading and lagging indicators of performance, so we can change course where needed and keep doing what works.

Metrics, however, are a slippery beast. In addition to measuring the results of actions, they also motivate action. And this is where things can go either fabulously right, or terribly wrong. What’s worse is that we may not realize what outcome we are promoting until it is too late.

Here’s an example from early in my career. This experience seared onto my brain the awesome power of metrics to influence behavior. And with that power comes great responsibility to ensure that the outcome we motivate is the one that we want.

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Get The Towel First: How Our Brains Trick Us into Indifference

I’m about to share one of my top process efficiency discoveries of all time. Well, OK, I don’t want to oversell this… but it’s something that both amazes and amuses me, many times a week.

Before we continue, however, a bit of context is required.  Female readers will resonate with this immediately. And for the men—well, you’re about to get a peek into that mysterious enclave known as—The Ladies Room (and yes, we persist in calling it that, despite the more P.C. signage of “WOMEN” on the door.)

Emotional Intelligence and Public restrooms

What Causes The Mess?

So Ladies: I think that you’ll agree that large public restrooms can be pretty messy. There’s almost always soapy water pooled on the counters and floors. Paper towels fallen from overstuffed trash bins lay half-soaked, and sometimes there’s even a muddy path leading to the stalls.  Leaning over to reach the wall-mounted soap dispenser results in a wet jacket hemline. Ugh.

What’s up with this? It doesn’t happen at home (exception noted for any family with 2+ young children.)  Is it the sheer volume of usage that causes  this mess? Or is it… something more subtle?

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What is Emotional Intelligence?

We hear the term “Emotional Intelligence” a lot in workplaces. We get told that great leaders have it. Our performance reviews tell us to increase it. But what is it? Here’s my own definition:

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to consciously align your behaviors to a desired outcome.

It may sound simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s because behaviors are influenced by emotions, and emotions are influenced by a variety of things like personal needs, values, past experience, and instinct. The raw input of our environment passes through these filters, and our brain delivers a verdict in the form of an interpretation. And that, in turn, produces a behavior.

How The Brain "Channels & Chooses"

Basically, it’s “Channel and Choose.” Your brain receives stimulus, channels it through your own personal filters, and then chooses an action.

One of the wondrous and amazing things about the human brain is that it can operate at a meta level of consciousness, above these routine brain processes. We can become aware of our own needs and values that trigger particular emotions. We can process those emotions and then evaluate potential responses. We can learn to recognize situations that create an “emotional-hijack” and produce ineffective (or even destructive) behaviors—and change that course.

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A Case of the Jitters…?

emotional intelligence anxiety

We All Get The Jitters Sometimes

I had an unusual experience a couple of days ago: I got nervous right before a client presentation. It was more than the typical adrenalin surge that happens right before I hit a stage, or stare into a live camera with a reporter on the other end. This was the real jitters.

The funny thing is that I was on the phone with a friend with whom I’m partnering on this proposal, as we waited for his client to come on the line.  So you’d think I’d be even more relaxed since my pal was there with me. He happens to be kicking-“a” in his own consulting practice, and I have a high degree of confidence in him– someone I’d trust to carry the entire conversation without me. To top that off, the workplace Emotional Intelligence program we’re presenting is so authentically from our cores that we don’t need scripted pitches. Not only do we know our stuff– we “are” our stuff. So what’s to be nervous about?

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PMI Certification: Is it Worth It?

Is Certification Worth It?

As I speak to audiences about the importance of soft skills and emotional intelligence in project management, inevitably I’m asked my opinion on the value of a  certification from the PMI (Project Management Institute) such as the PMP (Project Management Professional.) This topic is very polarizing in our professional community.  The camps generally divide into :  1) Those who sought the PMP on their own and found it to be an excellent training opportunity; 2) Those who were required by their employer or felt pressured by the job market to obtain it; and, 3) Those who are active resisters or were just never required to get one.

First off, let me state clearly that I do not have a PMI certification. Heresy, you say? Well, the reality is that the PMP certification gained prominence at a time when I was already firmly established in my career. My employers, knowing my skills and track record, never pushed for me to obtain it.

So is there a value in having the PMI certification? My strong answer is… it depends. Let’s look at the requirements and costs, and then I’ll tell you what I really think. Continue reading

Aside

Welcome to the blog for Pam Stanton, The Project Whisperer. Here you’ll find articles, announcements, and news related to project management and leadership– which as we all know, requires “Heart, Brains, & Courage.” Please join the conversation! Share your thoughts, … Continue reading