Being respectful does not mean being a doormat

Kareem Shaker wrote a very good blog post about RED Leadership, a term he coined for his 3 leadership pillars: Respect, Empathize, and Develop.

I particularly liked what he said about respect:

“Do not expect people to respect you because you are higher in position, even though they may try to show respect whenever they see you, you have to be smart enough to distinguish real respect from fake one.”

I agree and I think the same rule should apply to how the Project Manager deals with people in higher positions.

During my transition to be a Project Manager, the hardest thing for me to learn was to be respectful without being passive. This was especially critical around authority figures, such as senior managers, directors, and executive sponsors in conflict situations.

My only two default settings were to either to be too passive or overly aggressive.

We often mistake being respectful to being totally passive and submissive to the point where we are unable to tell truth to powers. I think the root cause of many project issues can be traced to this lack of assertiveness on the part of the Project Manager. Whether we are dealing with uncommitted sponsors or out of control scope creep, having the capacity (and willingness) to be assertive and at the same time be respectful can make the difference between success and failure.

I learned that it is possible to be respectful and at the same time remember to interact with authority figures as equals to me. I wrote in another post titled “Assuming Equality” that:

“Our self confidence comes from being a respectful and respected person, valuing ourselves and valuing others, and believing that we are equal to others – not superior or inferior. It is about standing up for our own rights, opinions, and needs, but still taking into account those of other people.”

When we are assertive and respectful, people tend to have a lot of respect for us in return as they know we are individuals who will not allow ourselves to be pushed around.

I am passionate about this topic as it is at the heart of the mindset required to be an effective project manager. Unfortunately PM training spends too much time focusing on what the Project Manager should “do” and not on what they should strive to “become” to lead successful projects.

What strategies have you found successful in dealing with authority figures?

As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

PS: you can read more about dealing with authority figures in my other post “Assuming Equality

5 Responses to Being respectful does not mean being a doormat
  1. Soma
    February 7, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    Very nice post to which I completely agree…..

    • samad_aidane
      February 7, 2010 | 6:14 pm

      Thank you Soma for taking the time to read the post and comment.

  2. Kareem Shaker
    February 8, 2010 | 5:25 am

    Hi Samad,

    Thanks a lot for quoting me, appreciate it

    I am glad that we share similar values

    Nice to meet you!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martin Haworth and Samad Aidane, Kareem Shaker. Kareem Shaker said: Check out Being respectful does not mean being a doormat http://bit.ly/aLWs0d #pmot #leadership […]

  4. […] a manager does not equal having your team’s respect. It is a hard truth in business. You might even be faced with fake displays of “respect.” Worse […]

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Being respectful does not mean being a doormat

Kareem Shaker wrote a very good blog post about RED Leadership, a term he coined for his 3 leadership pillars: Respect, Empathize, and Develop.

I particularly liked what he said about respect:

“Do not expect people to respect you because you are higher in position, even though they may try to show respect whenever they see you, you have to be smart enough to distinguish real respect from fake one.”

I agree and I think the same rule should apply to how the Project Manager deals with people in higher positions.

During my transition to be a Project Manager, the hardest thing for me to learn was to be respectful without being passive. This was especially critical around authority figures, such as senior managers, directors, and executive sponsors in conflict situations.

My only two default settings were to either to be too passive or overly aggressive.

We often mistake being respectful to being totally passive and submissive to the point where we are unable to tell truth to powers. I think the root cause of many project issues can be traced to this lack of assertiveness on the part of the Project Manager. Whether we are dealing with uncommitted sponsors or out of control scope creep, having the capacity (and willingness) to be assertive and at the same time be respectful can make the difference between success and failure.

I learned that it is possible to be respectful and at the same time remember to interact with authority figures as equals to me. I wrote in another post titled “Assuming Equality” that:

“Our self confidence comes from being a respectful and respected person, valuing ourselves and valuing others, and believing that we are equal to others – not superior or inferior. It is about standing up for our own rights, opinions, and needs, but still taking into account those of other people.”

When we are assertive and respectful, people tend to have a lot of respect for us in return as they know we are individuals who will not allow ourselves to be pushed around.

I am passionate about this topic as it is at the heart of the mindset required to be an effective project manager. Unfortunately PM training spends too much time focusing on what the Project Manager should “do” and not on what they should strive to “become” to lead successful projects.

What strategies have you found successful in dealing with authority figures?

As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

PS: you can read more about dealing with authority figures in my other post “Assuming Equality

5 Responses to Being respectful does not mean being a doormat
  1. Soma
    February 7, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    Very nice post to which I completely agree…..

    • samad_aidane
      February 7, 2010 | 6:14 pm

      Thank you Soma for taking the time to read the post and comment.

  2. Kareem Shaker
    February 8, 2010 | 5:25 am

    Hi Samad,

    Thanks a lot for quoting me, appreciate it

    I am glad that we share similar values

    Nice to meet you!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martin Haworth and Samad Aidane, Kareem Shaker. Kareem Shaker said: Check out Being respectful does not mean being a doormat http://bit.ly/aLWs0d #pmot #leadership […]

  4. […] a manager does not equal having your team’s respect. It is a hard truth in business. You might even be faced with fake displays of “respect.” Worse […]

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/being-respectful-does-not-mean-being-a-doormat/trackback

Being respectful does not mean being a doormat

Kareem Shaker wrote a very good blog post about RED Leadership, a term he coined for his 3 leadership pillars: Respect, Empathize, and Develop.

I particularly liked what he said about respect:

“Do not expect people to respect you because you are higher in position, even though they may try to show respect whenever they see you, you have to be smart enough to distinguish real respect from fake one.”

I agree and I think the same rule should apply to how the Project Manager deals with people in higher positions.

During my transition to be a Project Manager, the hardest thing for me to learn was to be respectful without being passive. This was especially critical around authority figures, such as senior managers, directors, and executive sponsors in conflict situations.

My only two default settings were to either to be too passive or overly aggressive.

We often mistake being respectful to being totally passive and submissive to the point where we are unable to tell truth to powers. I think the root cause of many project issues can be traced to this lack of assertiveness on the part of the Project Manager. Whether we are dealing with uncommitted sponsors or out of control scope creep, having the capacity (and willingness) to be assertive and at the same time be respectful can make the difference between success and failure.

I learned that it is possible to be respectful and at the same time remember to interact with authority figures as equals to me. I wrote in another post titled “Assuming Equality” that:

“Our self confidence comes from being a respectful and respected person, valuing ourselves and valuing others, and believing that we are equal to others – not superior or inferior. It is about standing up for our own rights, opinions, and needs, but still taking into account those of other people.”

When we are assertive and respectful, people tend to have a lot of respect for us in return as they know we are individuals who will not allow ourselves to be pushed around.

I am passionate about this topic as it is at the heart of the mindset required to be an effective project manager. Unfortunately PM training spends too much time focusing on what the Project Manager should “do” and not on what they should strive to “become” to lead successful projects.

What strategies have you found successful in dealing with authority figures?

As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

PS: you can read more about dealing with authority figures in my other post “Assuming Equality

5 Responses to Being respectful does not mean being a doormat
  1. Soma
    February 7, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    Very nice post to which I completely agree…..

    • samad_aidane
      February 7, 2010 | 6:14 pm

      Thank you Soma for taking the time to read the post and comment.

  2. Kareem Shaker
    February 8, 2010 | 5:25 am

    Hi Samad,

    Thanks a lot for quoting me, appreciate it

    I am glad that we share similar values

    Nice to meet you!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martin Haworth and Samad Aidane, Kareem Shaker. Kareem Shaker said: Check out Being respectful does not mean being a doormat http://bit.ly/aLWs0d #pmot #leadership […]

  4. […] a manager does not equal having your team’s respect. It is a hard truth in business. You might even be faced with fake displays of “respect.” Worse […]

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