During my first several projects, I worried about the following things:

  1. My boss being happy with me
  2. The project results being of high quality
  3. The client being happy with the results

Yes in that order.  I was on my own and had a lot of bills.  I feared losing my job first and foremost.  I also wanted to be proud of my work, which was the basis of 2 & 3.  One of the reasons I left a company once was they had a policy of x number of bugs was accepted.  I thought the number was too high and didn’t want to be delivering crappy code.  When I gave notice, I highlighted this as one of the reasons (there were many others) and his response was “we don’t need you to build a Cadillac, we are being paid to build a Chevy”.  I’m not a car gal but even I understood that being told you were only required to build sub-par software is not really motivating.

So I went searching to build a Cadillac and I did find it.  Sometimes in a team and sometimes on my own.  Over time, my priorities changed order:

  1. The client being happy with the results
  2. The project results being of high quality
  3. My boss being happy with me

I realized if you focused on the client, which you had to have high quality to achieve that and then of course your boss is going to be happy.  This worked for quite some time.  My reputation of being dependable and high quality was secure.  

Then my team sizes got bigger and I suddenly couldn’t “do whatever it takes” to make sure we deliver.  I HAD to trust others.  So my priorities as a manager became:

  1. The client being happy with the results
  2. The project results being of high quality
  3. Creating a team environment to get the job done

I wanted teams that felt like we were in this fight together.  That I would stand next to them and go down swinging if needed.  I remember sitting in a room with a handful of people as we realized that we had just been assigned to a project that should have been sold for at least 3 months longer.  We went around the room and declared a commitment to each other that we were in this for the next 10 months and would do whatever was necessary to meet the goal.  And we did.  We did with hard work, laughter, sweat and even a few tears.   I cared about people on that project.  I spent 10 months with people on that project.  I knew about their families.  I even helped one developer fabricate a story in order to do a surprise proposal.  Yet, if you asked me about any of their professional goals or what their professional comfort zones were…I would have no answer for you.  I could tell you their strengths and weaknesses as I saw them but not as they did.  I never envisioned potential career paths for any of them.  I focused on helping us be a team to complete the project.  The project came first and maybe in the consulting world as a project manager that didn’t have the team as direct reports that was appropriate.  However, now I feel like I cheated them and myself because I now evolved into a leader that focuses on:

  1. Creating a collaborate empowered team environment
    • The client being happy with the results
    • The project results being of high quality
  2. Helping individuals grow

A collaborate empowered team almost always gets the job done with a focus on client satisfaction and high quality.  So in some ways, my job as a leader is #1.  That team then is responsible for client satisfaction and quality.  Then as needed and when available, further raise #1 by helping individuals to continue to grow.  These days, I constantly challenge teams and people to go outside of their comfort zone, which means I have to know what that was in the first place.  I didn’t just care about these people, I was truly invested in them.  Their ups, their downs and everything in between.  People over projects.

When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch

Maybe all of this wasn’t just being short-sighted early in my career on what success truly meant.  I needed the experiences myself before I could help others.  But I also will recognize that I didn’t realize the previous level was not the top.  I didn’t understand the difference between performing and high performing.  So I’m glad others kept pushing me.  I’m glad I kept changing roles, projects, and even companies to find what my Cadillac turned out to be.  I also know that this is not the end of the evolution of my priorities.   I’m not only ok with that, I’m excited by it.

What are some of your objectives when leading?

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.

3 Comments

  • Pradipta Mishra says:

    Very well said! I have personally gone through these changing priorities. You have put it very nicely – a Cadillac like summary.

    Pradipta

  • Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same topics you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

    • Tricia says:

      Thank you. Right now, I have my hands full but it’s definitely something to consider in the future.

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