Project Practitioners > Develop your character

Develop your character

By Alfonso Bucero

How a project manager, as a leader, deals with the circumstances of projects tells you many things about his character. Project crisis does not necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that make a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences. The development of character is at the heart of our development not just as leaders, but as human beings.

What every project manager should know about character?

  1. Character is more than talk: Anyone can say that he has integrity, act on what you say, but action is the real indicator of character. Your character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do. That’s why you can never separate a leader’s character from his actions. If a leader’s actions and intentions are continually working against each other, then look to his character to find out why.
  2. Talent is a gift, but character is a choice: We have no control over a lot of things in life. We don’t get to choose our parents. We don’t select the location or circumstances of our birth and upbringing.  We don’t select the location or circumstances of our birth and upbringing. We don’t get to pick our talents. But we do choose our character. In fact, we create it every time we make choices to cop out or dig out of a hard situation, to bend the truth or stand under the weight of it, to take the easy money or pay the price. As you manage your projects and make choices today, you are continuing to create your character.
  3. Character brings lasting success with people: True project leaders always involve other people. Followers do not trust leaders whose character they know to be flawed, and they will not continue following them.
  4. Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character: Have you ever seen highly talented people suddenly fall apart when they achieved a certain level of success? The key to that phenomenon is character. When arrogance arrives, it generates some problems.

As you lead people as a project manager recognize that your character is your most important asset. A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the “gray areas”.

To improve your character, do the following:

Search for the cracks:  Spend some time looking at the major areas of your professional life as a project manager, and identify anywhere you might have corners, compromised, or let people down. Write down every instance you can recall from the past two months.

Look for patterns: Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing? Detectable patterns will help you diagnose character issues.

Face the music: The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions. Create a list of people to whom you need to apologize for your actions, and then follow through with sincere apologies.

- Rebuild: It is one thing to face up in your past actions. It is another to build a new future. Now that you have identified any areas of weaknesses, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.

TODAY IS A GOOD DAY to take action for improving your character as a project manager. If you want to be COMPLETE as a project manager you need to develop yourself. For more information consult the book "THE COMPLETE PROJECT MANAGER" coauthored by Randy Englund and Alfonso Bucero and published by Management Concepts Press.

Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI Fellow

BUCERO PM Consulting

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Well said, Alfonso! We give much attention to the maturity of an organization in project management, but perhaps it is more important to attend to our own individual maturity in character. Thanks for a great reminder and road map.

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