How big is your commitment gap?

The gap between what an aspiring leader commits to and what he/she actually does makes a great difference in determining their success. The bigger the gap, the less likely the success. The smaller the gap, the more likely the success.

In my years mentoring both high potential employees and executives alike, successful mentees have a number of common traits for instance; great communication skills, are able to influence others, ability to execute plans, takes accountability, simplifies a complex discussion, humble and so on.

One very interesting trait of successful mentees, I noticed, is their focus on having a very small or non-existing gap between what they say they will do and what they actully do. When they commit an action to a specific date, chances are, they deliver. No need to chase them on their target dates. They take pride on delivering to their commitment.

Their superiors are able to rely on them because they deliver. They get things done. They are true to their word.

Their peers and subordinates can rely on their commitment. They will not leave you hanging. They deliver.

In this world of excuses, finger pointing and moving targets they stand out. They rise up the corporate ladder. They succeed.

How about you? How small is your gap?

What can go wrong

Mentoring Project Managers of varying experience has shown me certain traits from highly successful ones. Project Managers are powerful agents of change. Leaders understand that success in transforming organizations is directly related to their ability to execute change programs. The rest of us call these ‘Projects’.

Projects have been given a bad rap through the years with all the failed projects that populate a company. If we look at a few successful transformation projects, we will notice a certain trend.

Great agents of change (or Project Managers) have the following competencies going for them:
1. Clear and concise communicators
2. Well organized
3. Makes sure that tasks have single accountabilities and specific deadlines
4. Great motivators
5. Holds others accountable to their deliverables
6. Focused at making timelines work
7. Holds a clear vision of the end game

On a side note, these are the same competencies we find in successful leaders. At the end of the day great project managers are great leaders. Imagine having a group of people, who do not work for you, work together and deliver a common goal.

Stepping back, most projects fail or gets delayed because Project Managers do not bother to think about what can go wrong with their project and prevent/mitigate them. Mediocre project managers, like mediocre leaders, simply react to events. They allow risks (problems that have not happened yet) to transition into issues (problems that have materialized).

With all the moving parts of a project, managing risks is probably one of the most important activity of a change agent. Regular assessment of what can go wrong and managing it before it materializes, is the mark of a truly great project manager.

It is not rocket science. It is simply listing down what can go wrong, how to prevent/mitigate it, assign a person accountable for the prevention/mitigation. If a project is important enough, a weekly assessment of project risk instantly gives the project a better chance at succeeding.

When a risk materializes into an issue, it creates a speed bump or even a road block to the project.

How about you? Do you manage the risks of projects or initiatives you own?