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A Lesson in Project Management and Leadership From Amelia Earhart

July 2, 2011
Earhart and "old Bessie" Vega 5b c. ...

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Never do things others can do and will do if there are things others cannot do or will not do.
Amelia Earhart

A friend of mine shared the quote above and it struck me how much this quote applies to Project Management.  Amelia Earhart was a leader in women’s rights and aviation.  She demonstrated that she was as capable a pilot as any man, and is an inspiration to those who face the unknown and adversity.

The above quote is reminder to the many Project Managers who are chosen to lead and manage because they demonstrated subject matter expertise, that as we become Project Managers our role and focus must change.  We must leave our comfort zone and learn and develop new skills and proficiencies.  The aptitudes and abilities that brought us HERE, will not take us THERE.  The transition from team member or subject matter expert to Project Manager can be made more smoothly when we are given training, support and coaching.

If you are making that transition, I recommend that you not try to do it alone.  Get the training you need in Project Management and Interpersonal Skills.  Look for a coach or mentor to give you feedback.  Set goals and objectives for yourself and your teams.  Share those goals and objectives with your leadership, setting the expectation that you are in transition and will make mistakes.  Most of all, you must fight the temptation to revert to your comfort zone.  You are no longer a team member.  While your subject matter expertise is valuable to the project team, your real value comes from being able to lead and manage a project team to successful completion of a project.  You are now the captain of the ship and as such you must keep your head up and your eyes on the horizon and bigger picture.   As Project Managers we are called to add value to projects and programs by doing what no one else can do better than we can – lead and manage projects.

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