Relatable Moments

Sometimes you search for yourself in the pages when you’re reading a new book, and sometimes the authors seem to know you (and that somehow, they wrote you into the book).

I am Shelly, Eve, and Olivia. Except at a different level and I’m not actually written into the book so I’ll elaborate.

Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood in Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager give the reader an organized approach to project management, creating a list of necessities for the unofficial project manager which includes a critical mindset, essential skillset, and toolset. Then, they set you up with a couple of key concepts that include “Manage projects, lead people,” and the Four Foundational Behaviors.

  1. Demonstrate respect
  2. Listen first
  3. Clarify expectations
  4. Practice accountability

I like that the authors weave in scenarios of 1. Women as project managers 2. Women with real emotions who handle them efficiently 3. Women, without sexist stereotypes (mostly, a lot can be said about the perception of women in the workplace, and I wonder/would guess whether these scenarios have more depth to them, see: 9 Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women). Secondly, they reinforce the importance of the four foundational behaviors in these scenarios quite well, and relatably.

The first scenario in which I found myself nodding along was when the authors’ colleague Shelly recounts a time when she once would have “walked back to [her] desk and promptly pulled [her] hair out.” She stays calm when told she has a tight budget and zero help and listens and re-framed the expectations from her CEO. In doing so, she was able to reason with him for more of a budget and more resources to enable a successful outcome.

Then we get to shy, independent, and compassionate Eve, who wants to work to make the hospital a safer and better place (who wouldn’t want that)? She’s faced with an egotistical doctor during a group interview with stakeholders, but remembers to respect his ego (or ignore it, bottle up her anger, and move on). The foundational behaviors keep her from potentially losing her job.

Though I know that Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood didn’t mean to write a novel where you really identify with the characters, I found myself really putting and seeing myself in Olivia’s shoes. Particularly when she wants to scream at a board member who always wants to push deadlines forward.

I, too, internally scream, Olivia.

Moreso, I relate to being overwhelmed when things that are out of your control follow Murphy’s Law. I know the feeling when your supervisor calls you in regarding something you’d wanted to chat about in the first place, and you’re faced with complications you couldn’t have imagined. But you keep calm and listen, hold yourself and your people (and your supervisor) accountable, and work it out.

Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood masterfully craft the concepts they’re trying to impart to unofficial project managers by bringing to life how to use them with Shelly, Eve, and Olivia.

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