Humility And Project Management


Workers On Construction Site

In today's society, there is a movement by governments, businesses, and individuals toward increasing self-interest, arrogance, indifference, and the imposition of dominance over others. No longer do we truly value honesty, transparency, mutual respect, holding ourselves accountable for our thoughts and actions, and the opinions of others. We are moving further away from humility toward pride, evidenced by various abuses and preferences for excesses. 

Humility is an innate quality that allows us to be modest, mindful, respectful of others, and balanced in our personal and professional lives. It allows us to live and work peaceably with others, see their worth to wider strategic efforts and goals, understand limitations and boundaries, embrace qualities which inspire equity and value, recognize where we might have shortcomings and vulnerabilities, and help to repair broken relationships where anger and pride would have once harmed them. 

Humility is a neither weakness nor insecurity. It is however, a position from which we can recognize and appreciate the strengths and virtues in others, stand firmly and faithfully without the validation of men, and where authority and promotion comes from God. Here, there are no false pretenses about who we are, what we have been called to do and are capable of. There is also, a peace that can be found through wisdom, revelation, and understanding.

The global shift toward an absence of humility and inaccurate sighting of who we are, is also having a negative impact on projects and its stakeholders. Having reflected upon a few of the projects undertaken within recent time, we were able to recognize and extract the following undesirable trends;

  • Increasing negative attitudes toward identifying and assessing risk. Unnecessary risks are being taken with the view or assumption that things will work out. When things do not, the project's performance is adversely affected, accountability is skirted, and condemnations are handed down.
  • Leaders, managers, and project stakeholders are becoming far more concerned about themselves and less on the teams they work with. Referring to their egos or sense of self-importance, an over-reliance on it to manage persons and projects has led to short-sightedness, costly mistakes, dishonesty, a lack of transparency, and project overruns. Successfully realizing any project or strategic initiative requires the input, expertise, feedback, and collaborative efforts of all involved.
  • Collaboration and information-sharing are becoming less important. Often perceived as a means of diminishing one's base of power, both are key to identifying and assessing project risks and constraints, developing schedules and budgets, overcoming obstacles, and completing any project work within planned or established parameters. The absence of either certainly ensures that projects become unnecessarily complicated, slower to complete, more expensive, and fall short of stated aims, objectives, and requirements.
  • Less planning is also being done on projects. Regarded as inflexible and a waste of time, effort, and money, planning is invaluable to organizing work within large or temporary organizations. Increasingly, projects are being undertaken with a level of arrogance that is underpinned by knowledge and previous experience. This blinds stakeholders to the challenges that come with changing environments, conditions, and requirements.
  • Based on competition and a need to compare ourselves to others, reputations appear to be of more importance than shared value and mutual understanding. Those who have become more interested in looking good rather than working with others toward a given goal or outcome, often do so at their own detriment. Their actions tend to engender mistrust, indignation, and disagreeableness within teams, dulling its overall performance and effectiveness. 

Humility, like many other qualities, can be nurtured and developed with time. We have identified below, just a few ways in which you as a project manager or leader can encourage and build humility not only within yourself, but others as well.

  • Listen to and respect the advice, input, and opinions of those around you and within your team. Teammates can provide valuable insight and information, especially in planning and problem solving. Do not be quick to disregard what is shared. Be genuinely open to alternative perspectives and views.
  • Take responsibility for the project at all times, especially when things do not go right. Neither do you blame others. Do however, hold them accountable for their efforts and work alongside them to devise and implement innovative solutions to problems.
  • Admit when you do not know something or have the answers to questions asked. Do commit to seeking out the information and following up with an answer, when you don't. This helps to build honesty, transparency, respect, and trust, and encourages others to do the same.
  • Exercise care and concern over those within your team and the environment in which they operate. Ensure that they have access to the resources and tools needed to complete their jobs. This allows them to trust and respect your leadership and perform at their best.
  • Recognize the efforts and contributions of others, giving credit and recognition where it is due. This goes without saying.
  • Do not micromanage your people for it can negatively impact morale. Set clear expectations with your project team, along with realistic and achievable goals. Be sure to verify and validate collective efforts and their results.
  • Be less dogmatic and more flexible in the methodologies and approaches used. The project environment is always subject to change and your team would be more willing to cooperate and contribute to the project's success when they see opportunities to add value.
  • Finally, with the understanding that there is always room for improvement, spend time reflecting on your thoughts, actions, and interactions with others looking at what could have been done better.