Thursday, January 24, 2008

PROJECT MANAGEMENT & ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR: THE RULES OF EFFECTIVE INFLUENCE

Influencing others goes a long way in becoming organizationally effective. And feeling better about your world and yourself.

Stephen Covey is my guru on this and all related subjects that pertain to effective people. Click here to read my blog entry about his highly acclaimed book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."

The power to influence others is important in any setting. Currently, more of my work is within the field of project management and I find that this subject has become more significant.

I’ve listed some practical guidelines below. None originated from me. Their “correctness” comes from their mention in other topics concerning human interactions.

1. In the short-term, you should build common interests through negotiation.

2. In the long-term, work on building trust, confidence, and respect for each other. If you have integrity and honesty, seek to demonstrate those qualities at every opportunity. If you don’t—well, you’re not my kind of a person.

3. Make hard decisions when necessary. However, be empathic with people who are adversely affected by those hard decisions. What’s empathy? To me, it’s being in the other person’s shoes and feeling what they feel and then returning to your own and communicating that you understand how they feel.

4. Avoid making enemies. An opponent is someone who disagrees with you and wants a situation to have a different outcome from yours. An enemy, on the other hand, is someone who has taken your disagreement to a more personal level and seeks to harm you. Discourage your opponents from becoming enemies by demonstrating genuine integrity and honesty. Do not be manipulative or double-cross them.

5. Be a worthwhile ally. This doesn’t mean that you have to offer your wholehearted and unreserved support for every action of your allies. Rather, it means that you should support people when they have worthwhile goals even if you do not directly benefit.

6. Do you know what a “fair-weather” sailor is? This is a sailor who sails only when the weather is safe and nice. Likewise, don’t be a fair-weather friend. Don’t demonstrate that you care about your allies only when the situation is safe. Demonstrate your support even if you expose yourself to political risk. In the long-term, you’ll earn not only their respect but the attention and respect of others.

7. Be generous with your favors. Do not dispense your favors conditionally. Do not dispense your favors on the condition that you expect an equal exchange or quid pro quo. Do favors when they are appropriate and within your power.

8. Ask for favors when you need help. Refrain from reminding those whom you seek help of any previous favors that you did for them. People of integrity will remember and act accordingly.

9. Keep your lines of communication open across barriers and, difficult as it may be, especially during times of conflict.

10. Make it clear by your actions and choices that you will do what’s right and beneficial to the organization.

11. Be aware that others do not necessarily follow the same code of principles that you do. Act with integrity but don’t be na├»ve to the reality of the behavior of others.

12. Do not win the battle and lose the war. There will be life after the most important project. Do not win at the cost of your principles. Take a long-term perspective. I know it's easier said than done. And even when I know, I still make some of these mistakes. That's what being human is, isn't it? We just have to try and keep on trying.



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