Category Archives: Project Management

How You Lead is How You Behave

Sometime I get to witness a really interesting range of behavior.

A particular example is stuck in my mind.

At the rental car return in Los Angeles a group of us – growing from 7 to 12 in 20 minutes, waited for the shuttle to take us to back to the airport. One of the twelve was quite vocal about the annoyance.  Her tone, her complaints, did resonate with most of us. She kept demanding answers from a manager who didn’t have any answers.

Another car rental company’s shuttle driver approached the drop off area for a second time, and assessed the situation. He chose kindness.  He chose to extend himself.

“I’ll take you,” he offered.  “Come on – I have a couple of people that I need to pick up around the corner then I can take all of you.”

We swarmed down to his bus, many calling out ‘thank you!’.

Along the way, the same vocal traveler from the curb suggested he change his route. It would, she asserted, be faster. He politely declined; he had a route mandated by his boss. On the third time she tried to redirect him, he asked, looking up at the ceiling of the bus, ‘Do you want to drive too?’

I was one of the last people he dropped off. I gave him a tip as a thank you for going out of his way.  He was pleasantly surprised and, almost as an afterthought, mentioned that this was the only tip he had been offered.

I was embarrassed on behalf of my fellow travelers. I muttered something about how I appreciated what he did and walked into the terminal.

Many of the travelers that driver helped out were easily wearing more on their backs than he would make in a week. But that was not the heart of my distress.

What really bugged me was this:

Have we become so entitled that we believe saying ‘Thank you’ to people covers it? Even when people go out of their way to extend a helping hand?

Today, in this economic reality, more and more people struggle to get to the end of the month – often facing hard budget choices.  I mean hard decisions like “how much can I spend on groceries without having to arrange a payment schedule for my utilities?”

Not choices of  ‘I really wanted to buy those shoes, that suit, that backpack, but I’m also saving for a Caribbean cruise so maybe I should hold off’.

When you choose not to be kind or generous in return for treatment that has been kind and generous it is a sign. It suggests that you are pretty sure that you are more important than they are.

Are you just in too much of a hurry to turn your attention to a gesture of appreciation towards someone else?

What is it that keeps civility and good behavior going? Sometimes it’s the way we were raised. Sometimes it’s the surety of a ‘heaven or hell’ type of faith.  Sometimes it’s being aware that the focus on whatever we care about in that moment might be blinding us to our fellow human beings.  Sometimes it’s our mirror neurons kicking in when we are around civil and well-behaved people.

Unfortunately, those mirror neurons also pick up on patterns of behavior that we don’t want to adopt.

I won’t waste time and energy being frustrated by people who are self-centric, dismissive of the needs of others, or simply oblivious to the guidelines of ethical and humane treatment of others. I have decided to view those experiences as object lessons. Here’s why:

  1.   Your example reaches further than you may realize – you don’t get to choose how many people your behavior will affect but you do get to choose what effect you make. The behaviors you exhibit anywhere give me – and everyone else – important cues to how you will also likely lead.
  2.   It only takes a moment to show appreciation for service you’ve received -especially when it is ‘above and beyond’ service. Think about your answer to this question: Do you think your people – your team – feel overappreciated?
  3.   Reach for an ‘anti-goal’ approach. Take it as an example of what you do not want to become – not even accidentally.

I commit myself, as I will likely have to do a number of times, to this mindset: It is worth it to maintain a standard of kindness and generosity I can be proud of.

Will you join me?

Relationship Management – Compare and Contrast

Busily 'clipping' articles I found interesting, an article on managing contacts from last year caused a pause. As project leaders, especially in this environment, it can be easy to fall back on a communications plan. But is that a really human way to manage expectations and relationships? What is your favourite way to keep the 'relations' in 'relationship management' lively, connective and useful?


An article on supporting employees coping with grief was published in Jan 2020. No one could have predicted the need for understanding these concepts would be so valuable and on such a scale so soon.

The broad scale of loss is becoming painfully evident.  Loss of those who have succumbed to the C-19, loss of a sense of safety, loss of workplace and team identity, and loss of an understanding how our world works.

As team leader, you can help. Here are a few key points:

  1. No one deals with grieving in exactly the same way. Our personal frame of reference can get in our way, if we let it. Each of us recovers our new level of equilibrium in different rhythms. That rhythm might include circling back. That’s okay. That’s human.
  2. ‘Let’s help!’ Perhaps, yet perhaps not now. Loss is intensively personal. Who and what we grieve for can’t always be understood by others. A suggestion: Let them know you are there, ask them about specific tasks that are due and whether or not they would prefer to set up a temporary task share. Acknowledge their grieving, let them guide the pace and topic of any further chats.

Your  team’s culture can support the members if that culture continues to be carefully tended – perhaps even deepened. What suggestions will you share about how you can lead the way?



Lessons in Social Media… What 7 weeks of double pneumonia taught me

Category : Project Management

After a short trip to Guam, my occasional walking pneumonia morphed into double pneumonia.

Let’s get the important bit out of the way. I tested for both C-19 and the antibodies – negative all ‘round. Who thought I’d be grateful for ‘just’ pneumonia?

7 weeks of bed, loads of liquids and meds to deal with the various symptoms. At times hours, even a day, when I felt less dead followed by a nasty relapse.

Social media? Not a priority. But for some folks, it is the only way they communicate. So, for a few minutes 1 or 2 times/day I would catch up on what some of my friends were doing.

Barely anyone even noticed I was gone. Humbling and instructive.

Lesson 1: if you hadn’t figured it out, each of us is just a few bits of humanity in this strange and wonderful existence.

Lesson 2: a simplifying clarity comes when you limit the time you spend in social media – even when it’s part of your business.

Lesson 3: people who truly care about you will keep up with you and inquire about you even with your schedule that included 15-18 hours of sleep a day.

Lesson 4: it isn’t not ‘real’ and it does matter. Post what you will. Your posts are not the sum of who you are. It will, however, be online forever and possibly have influence you don’t even know about.

What do you want to be your online identity?


Category : Project Management

But It Doesn’t Really Matter to YOU

But it doesn’t really matter to YOU – is what I often hear when the topic of race comes up.

It is when suddenly the other person realizes that I am not a member of the dominant society in the US.

I am a 4th generation Japanese American, 4th generation Californian living in the Midwest since 2015. Like so many, life has been a constant lesson in learning cultures, learning to bridge cultures. I've held on to some of what my grandparents gave me and, sadly, sacrificed too much of what they tried to give me because of my drive to be ‘part of’. I heard a 2014 TEDx talk titled ‘What I am Learning From My White Grandchildren’. Anthony Peterson posits that rather than the thought that race is real and it doesn’t matter, race is not real and it does matter. Race is a part of us but is not the only thing that makes each of us who we are, how competent we are, how caring we are. That is how it is not real. What makes it matter is when it is the single factor that drives how people choose to treat each of us and promote – whether socially, professionally or personally – each of us.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself ‘how many other ways might this be a valid perspective?’

I ask that you consider this: There is no one for whom it DOESN’T matter. Diminishing any of us diminishes all of us.

Here is the link to Mr. Peterson’s talk:

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