Project managers are dependent upon infor-
mation. What trait can help them voice their
feelings when they contradict the facts?
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, FAPM, RPP, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Saying no to a sponsor’s request or delivering unwelcome feedback to a team member is rarely easy. But part of being an effective project manager is occasionally creating discord. How to give voice to contradictory information is something I’m routinely asked about during my project management presentations and coaching sessions. It’s important to remember that the project
manager’s role is to demonstrate, articulate and defend what’s best for
the project and the organization. Speaking from a place of authenticity
can make that role so much easier.
TEN DEGREES OF AUTHENTICITY
Authenticity is the quality of being believable or trustworthy. Yet,
people have different degrees of authenticity:
n I am honest even when it’s difficult or unwelcome.
n I am honest when it’s comfortable.
n I am honest, depending on my audience.
n I’d like to be more honest, but it’s a risk to job security.
n I tell the listener what they want to hear; that’s what I’m paid for.
From the audience’s perspective, authenticity in a speaker can feel like:
n Based on words and actions and behaviors, I absolutely trust you.
n Based on appearance and words, I believe I can trust you.
n I’d like to believe I can trust you.
n The words and behaviors don’t match, so I’m not sure if I trust you.
n I wish I could trust you.
ACTING ON AUTHENTICITY
Project managers must strive for maximum authenticity. They must
Project managers generally are accustomed to representing context
believe “I am honest even when it’s difficult or unwelcome.”
Acting from that consistent, objective stance demonstrates that
project managers are aware of office politics and are committed to
doing what is right for the project.
appropriately, informing decision-making and sup-
porting processes when their evidence is fact-based.
Sheilina Somani, FAPM, RPP, PMP, is the owner
of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project
Management, a senior project manager, a
speaker and a mentor.