“I don’t know nearly as much as all those subject matter experts!” the competent project manager exclaimed further. “Don’t get me wrong” she said, “I’d love to take on a senior leadership role, but I can’t speak in their terms – the scientific and technological details – so why should they listen to me? They wouldn’t accept me as their leader, let alone respect me as their director.”
“Hold on a minute” I interjected, “wasn’t your education in a scientific field?”
“Yes.” she said hesitantly, seeming to reflect on her perceived inadequacy that was at the root of her reluctance to consider advancing her career. “But I only got a bachelors in microbiology – not really related to the sciences of product development, manufacturing and testing!”
“Maybe not,” I said, implying only partial agreement. “But how many development and technology transfer projects have you managed so far?”
“About forty” she said indifferently. “Anyway, I was only coordinating activities between the team members so that they stuck to the project plans.” She seemed to down-play her own contributions, again citing the brilliance of the subject matter experts.
“I see. So what did the stakeholders have to say, in general terms, about the way you ran these projects?”
You Are Ready to Lead!
She pondered a while, reflecting on the perspectives and feedback she had gleaned from her occasional conversations with members of senior management in her organization. “Well, they said I really understood the big picture, especially with the recent project campaigns. One of them even said I seemed to be able to ‘join the dots’ between departments to resolve technical project issues…”
That was the cue. This project manager had repeatedly under-estimated her own capabilities as a significant leader and influencer. Although she had years of know-how, it was only now that she began to realize that her confidence and self-esteem had been stymied by her tendency to compare herself unfavourably with professionals in other disciplines. She needed to take stock of her unique skills, perspectives and experience, and leverage them for her career development.
We agreed on a program of six coaching sessions over 3 months designed to hone leadership and communication skills, and brush up on essential knowledge of relevant product development and manufacturing processes.
This project manager, who until now had thought of her achievements as only modest accomplishments, increased her scientific acumen and competence in technical project leadership. Ultimately, she gained confidence; a self-assured view of her capability to take her career to the next level, while adding even greater value to her organization.
Rapid workplace-oriented coaching. Increasing employee engagement, confidence and leveraging potential for career development – one person at a time.
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