Invest in the Quality of You
Some of us become so obsessed with numbers (target dates achieved and money earned) that we forget the fundamentals of project leadership – influencing our team with honesty and integrity.
A recent development in car industry hit this point home. As reported in the Wall Street Journal in September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed that Volkswagen employed software on some VW and Audi diesel-powered cars to fake the results of routine emissions tests. Somewhere at a VW facility, a business leader was so intent on achieving the goal of hitting 10 Million annual vehicle sales that he/she forgot the fundamentals of leadership. The then VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned on Sep 23rd, 2015 over the emissions cheating scandal. It is not clear if Mr. Winterkorn was responsible, but someone at Volkswagen was. Someone who noticed the problem, knew about it, and let it slide.
At this point, some of you might be wondering – how is this relevant to me, a project leader or manager.It clearely is. You are the person who sees dishonesty before your CEO or Senior Management does. Don’t allow it to happen. Report what you see to your management and confront the team members who are not working with integrity and honesty. If your management or client allows it to continue, leave the organization. It is just not worth it.
If Quality is adherence to Specifications, let us ask – what are your specifications? To me, in this context, specifications are our core values. And they are fundamentals to becoming a great leader. What are your values? Can you articulate them and make a promise to yourself to uphold them when times are tough? Great leaders stay true to their values.
Project Management is about achieving quality. Project Leadership is about achieving quality driven by the values of honesty and integrity. At the end, you will be judged by the quality of your work long after you are gone. Make it count. Do great work, with integrity.
When leaders at businesses like VW fail to uphold good values, we lose our trust in them. Let us make a promise to invest in our values. Let us raise our specifications and commit to adhere to them when times are tough. When you invest in your values, your quality will go up. You will earn your team’s trust. And in the process, you will make your project a better place. Invest in the quality of you.