Ethics in Project Management
Leadership is a journey. Events in our personal and professional lives shape us as leaders. In a heartbeat, how we lead and its impact can change our lives, those of our loved ones, and the people around us. The most trying of these events come in our personal lives. Personal events, such as serious illness or death of a loved one, are high-stress, emotional situations where we must be leaders with little or no authority. A skill that is also indispensable in the office, for instance, when working for a difficult boss, being fired, or any number of other circumstances where we have little or no control. These “leadership passages” shape us as leaders. Understanding how these situations affect our leadership strategies, traits, and actions that make up our leadership style, helps us overcome seemly insurmountable challenges.
We all know ethics plays a large role in running projects. When you are rescuing a project and trying to solve root cause issues, however, it is even more critical. When projects have gotten to the point of requiring rescue, the actions of bringing in a recovery manager are usually coincident with talking to lawyers about alternative routes. One must be very thorough and mindful of the fact that news of the failure can hurt stakeholders, stockholders, and ordinary innocent people.
One cornerstone of leadership is our personality traits. Project managers need to develop and hone nine core traits—accountability, ethics, inspiration, decisiveness, awareness, empathy, confidence, focus, and humility—to ensure they can lead our diverse work forces. This track session is a deep dive into these traits using a roundtable discussion format—the audience voices there opinion of what the trait is and the presenter moderates the discussion and gives guidance on what that means in a business setting.
A friend of mine alerted me to an article in a PMI Community post titled Is Manipulation Ethical? From the title, I thought this would be neat read. However, the article was pretty swallow. How foolish to think that a 650-word article would address an issue that has plagued philosophers for a few millennia. The initial reaction was to the manipulative title, which was deceptive. It led me to believe the article would supply some profound knowledge. The short treatise failed. To its credit, though, it made me think. On the second pass, I decided that I disliked the article. In fact, its thesis—manipulation is ethical—is morally wrong.
Are there any ethics in business today? Time and again, headlines proclaim where companies and leaders have gone astray. You cannot help but wonder what our fellow humans will do next. Men and women in search of money, power, fame, or all three, decide they are exempt from the rules and social norms the rest of us struggle to follow. It boggles the mind. Unethical, however, is just a waypoint in the spectrum from truth to criminal. Face it, we are all liars. It may be telling our children about Santa Claus, portraying our speed to the policeman, covering up a politician's extramarital affair, or promising fortunes through investments in Ponzi products. Deceit is everywhere.
After being a project manager for a couple decades, the Procedure Police finally caught up with me and I had to get my PMP®. No, not for a job, for marketing. My publisher's marketing department made a PMP a requirement for publishing my new book. My wife was aghast that after teaching courses to PMPs so they could get their educational credits and recovering multiple projects that PMPs had led down the red road to failure, that I would have to go through any process to get this certificate. In her mind, my record of accomplishment should have stood for itself. I realized the bureaucracy of the whole affair and trudged forward.