Project Practitioners > Lessons from the Field

Lessons from the Field

By Ann Drinkwater

Professional sports can be inspiring. As I eagerly await this season, I think back at the qualities exhibited by my team’s leader. Facing many challenges under high scrutiny, this individual didn’t waver. Watching the leader of my team both on and off the field, highlighted the qualities we should all exhibit as leaders of our organizations or teams:

1. Exhibit Strong Character: One of my favorite quotes is from Abraham Lincoln “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” We must examine each and every thought we have and action we take to ensure they are the highest quality, golden rule type behaviors. Upbringing and family values play a large part in character development, but these values and our associated responses can be easily challenged. Determine your values and standards and stay true to them.

2. Stay Loyal: The more you set out to accomplish, the more critics you will face. Staying loyal to your organization and teams is critical for long-term success and for establishing yourself as someone others will follow. When adversity strikes, think about your organization and team before you speak. You are not just speaking your views, but need to always represent all parties in the best manner possible. Once you commit to an organization, project or team, stay committed.

3. Be Agile: When your opponents or clients change the playing field, how do you respond? Do you expect change or do you try to avoid it? Accepting and planning for change is necessary in order to deliver the right solutions at the right time. If one approach doesn’t work, try something different. Change the way you work. You wouldn’t always throw a pass to the same receiver in the same position. Survey the environment and determine what will work best at that point in time.

4. Exercise Hard Work: While we should always strive to work smart, we must also put in the time and effort to support our teams. Stay current in your field and be an example for others to follow and learn from. Regardless of your background or position, never give less than your best. And when our best is challenged or needs attention, be open and willing to make improvements.

What qualities do you have in common with leaders you respect? Do you believe in old-fashioned principles and set high standards for yourself? We should all have solid resumes full of experience and education, but there is much more to my definition of success. Treat your organizations and teams with respect, support them and do what is right in the face of adversity. 

~Ann E. Drinkwater



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