Enthusiasm Counts!

There were a lot of statistics and numbers being thrown around during and after the Monday night football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. In case you missed it, the Patriots were snuffed. Defeated in every sense of the word and outplayed throughout the entire game, it was a total disaster from the New England perspective.

For me, one statistic really stood out above the rest…and that was the 142.2 decibel level recorded by Guinness World Records, reestablishing Arrowhead as the loudest stadium in the world! This record had been held recently by Seattle who took it away from Kansas City just last December.

There are two lessons in this for us as project managers. First, enthusiasm counts! Many of the people working around us and for us have difficult jobs and stressful lives. We need to act in ways that tend to reduce anxiety. Being cheerful may not be easy for a front-line leader who is facing pressures and problems from every direction.

Yet, it is critical for leaders to be upbeat and optimistic. We need to be calm in the face of disaster and we need to lead! Even when the chips are down, it’s important to be supportive and positive. In fact, this may be the most challenging part of our job and also the most critical element.

The second lesson is the importance of nurturing relationships. While I give full credit to the KC Chiefs for their level of play and the skill and expertise of their coaching staff, the Chiefs fans were involved in this game and they made a difference! Every time the New England offense went into position the noise was deafening. The Patriots could not communicate (another pm lesson here) and their plans and plays disintegrated resulting in a complete desecration of their offense.

The people on the sidelines who may not be directly involved in your project are still important stakeholders. If they work for the same organization as you then they have a stake in your project. After all, if your project fails they are likely to be impacted by the fall-out. You need their support. Who are they you ask? Everyone! You should always be positive when speaking about your project. You may directly need their help at some point and you never know when a supportive word will help you behind the scenes.

Remember to stay in “selling” mode. Sell your project to everyone! You will garner support in ways that are difficult to imagine. It’s important to be realistic and truthful when reporting your status, however, in hallway conversations the more positive and optimistic you are, the more people will follow you, support you, and help you drive your projects to successful conclusions.

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a loyal fan of the three time world champion New England Patriots. Having grown up in New England I’ve been a Patriots fan for as long as I can remember. And that’s way back into the 60’s and 70’s…and then the 80’s and the 90’s and let’s face it…those were not necessarily always easy times to be a Pats fan. Things changed in recent years and for a while, the Patriots dominated the NFL, sometimes even being called a dynasty.

During the “dynasty” years, we saw Tom Brady (quarterback, offensive team captain, and unquestionably the “leader” of the Patriots players) constantly walking up and down the sidelines, encouraging, cajoling, joking, yelling, practicing, advising, and just being involved in the game. On Monday night, we saw a different side of the future hall of famer. We saw defeat long before the game was over. Let’s never show that face to our team!