Project managers can learn from some of the best athletes and sports teams in the world. Keeping an open mind is a trait shared by the majority of successful project managers, and some of the factors that contribute to sports success can be applied to your project management approach.
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Table of contents
- The team comes first
- Consider the long-term goal
- Adapt to new circumstances
- Rebuild when needed
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Here are a few examples:
One of the most common misconceptions about project management is that it is simply about keeping everything on track. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as every sports team requires a strong leader, the most successful project managers serve as project leaders. Leaders provide clear guidance and explanations of what is required. They are present when their team requires them and, in turn, do what is necessary to assist them, fostering mutual trust and ultimately leading to success.
A win in the Premier League standings is considered successful. Teams that win on a consistent basis, however, are those whose coaches are successful at leading their team with more than just knowing the rules of the game and basic strategy. Similarly, projects succeed when leaders distinguish between knowledge of the “game” and the necessary leadership skills. Successful coaches and project managers understand not only how to play the game, but also how to lead it.
2. The Team Comes First
We’ve all heard the expression “there is no ‘I’ in TEAM,” and it applies just as much to your office or field teams as it does to sports teams. Even in individual sports, there are others supporting the player along the way. Footballers have trainers to ensure they are fit and following the plan of goal, and golfers have instructors who teach them everything from how to blast a sand shot with their sand wedge to the best approach from the tee. A good project manager will focus on their team, assisting them in growing and improving their ability to self-organize, both of which are critical to success.
3. Consider the Long-term Goal
One of the most appealing aspects of sports is the instant gratification we get when our team wins or loses. The quick returns help us forget about the previous games or matches that did not go so well. While most sports are focused on the ‘here and now,’ it pays to look ahead to become a truly successful athlete. While the goal in front of you is important, success usually comes after years of hard work, effort, and practice.
When leading a project, it’s critical to keep your eye on the long-term goal. The quick goals are all part of the overall plan, and when everything is presented on time and to budget, many of the issues or difficulties that arose along the way will be neglected by everyone else and will serve as learning points for your decisions on the next project.
4. Adapt to New Circumstances
All sports are unexpected, with countless factors influencing who wins and who loses. While many fans have favorites, and there are often underdogs and mismatches throughout the season, there is no guarantee that one team will win.
While you should do everything possible to plan and develop a strategy, you must also be prepared to make changes as needed. When a professional golfer begins to struggle, it may be necessary to change every club in their bag after countless adjustments.
There will be times when you will deliver a project without making any changes, but there will come a time when you will be forced to modify the plan or restart it entirely. If you want to succeed, you must always be willing to change in order to win.
5. Rebuild When Needed
Many projects, like the most successful teams on the field or court, will come to an end at some point. Rebuilding is one of the most difficult challenges a team’s general manager faces after a successful season, and while your project may be on track now, changes within your project team will need to be addressed over time due to natural attrition.
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ProThoughts also has its own s
killed methodology known as “Game-Based Learning” in which participants are engaged through games and role-playing.
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