Quantum Leadership: A Story of Next Level Leadership in Project Management
AUTHOR’S NOTE: In this article, we will be walking you through Stage 1 (Awareness) of The Leadership Model.
Building the Vision
Our story begins with Neo, a project manager at Matrix Corporation. Through intentional effort, Matrix has landed a brand new customer. The deal on the table will allow Matrix to expand the scope of their company. Senior leadership, the shareholders and even the employees are very excited about this, because the project will give their company the ability to progress to the next level, which has been a part of the company’s vision since its inception. It is clear that there is a lot riding on this opportunity, and Neo, as the designated project manager, has been handed the reins.
In preparation, Neo is called in to speak with his senior supervisor, Morpheus. Morpheus wants to discuss Neo’s intended approach to this new project and learn more about what Neo is thinking and planning.
Morpheus asks Neo a series of deeper questions to elicit a more holistic view of the narrative that needs to exist for a project of this scope and potential impact. The key will be to align the company’s capabilities in order to guide the new customer toward the desired outcome. Morpheus wants to make Neo aware of the choices he has available to him and the potential win-win for Matrix and the customer. He desires that Neo have a full sense of the opportunity and privilege he has been granted to experience and curate, and he wants Neo to draw from what he knows and work with what he does not know.
Neo has been with Matrix Corporation for a number of years and has a track record of success in getting projects to move forward. The challenge with this project is it is the most complex of its kind. Another way to say it, the company has never done this before. Because there is growth involved for the company, for Neo and for the customer, there are new unknowns that have yet to be uncovered, addressed and found.
The project kickoff has been set for October 25th. It will begin with a meeting between the customer’s senior stakeholders, Neo and some of the leaders at Matrix Corporation. Neo has been asked to present a development timeline for the project. Neo does his best to draw from his past experiences and to project what he thinks might occur in the future. He also thinks about his conversation with Morpheus. The truth is, Neo doesn't know, with certainty, what will happen. Nobody holds that answer. What Neo does have is a sense of what will occur. At this point, he must develop trust in what his gut tells him.
Neo knows that having a high degree of confidence in his ability to guide this project to its preferred destination is essential. In order to do that, he will need to be able to see where there are challenges and gaps in understanding. Neo realizes he will have to work to constantly align himself, his team and all stakeholders to the vision...creating clarity and effective effort.
October 25th arrives, and as the kickoff meeting begins, the excitement is palpable. Everyone can see that, on the other side of this project, there are ground-breaking outcomes available for both sides. Even marginal success would mean maximal results for all involved.
Neo lays out the project outline. He talks about building requirements and understanding guideline metrics. In creating baselines and tracking them, Neo and his team will be able to receive insights and visibility into what's happening. All attendees are impressed and the meeting ends well.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Neo’s confidence heading into this project is high. If asked, Neo would likely say it's an eight and a half to nine. While Neo’s confidence is mostly based on his past successes, he is also working to align his inner or gut sense to his desired outcomes in order to fill the void of what he hasn’t experienced and doesn’t know. Neo is aware there are some elements that always come out of left field during any project. He doesn't know what he doesn't know and there lie the gaps. Neo is mindful that he must trust in his resourcefulness, leadership style and curiosity. He has been able to work through other unknown situations by knowing who to ask to gain access to what he needs. His role includes creating greater clarity of vision for the project.
Here, let us look for a moment at the three quotients that express how we access, process and utilize information. In simplistic terms, IQ or Intelligence Quotient is based on and measures what and how we think. EQ or Emotional Quotient evaluates what we feel, and PQ or Percipience Quotient assesses what we sense.
In Stage 1 of The Leadership Model, at the beginning of the Awareness process, perceived confidence is usually high. There is a sense of “I’ve got this,” and this choice of inner story leads to both high IQ and EQ. PQ is just developing, as we attempt to bridge the gap that the unknown presents. However in order to approach this project successfully, moving from the unknown to the known requires challenging thoughts and beliefs. This process, in the early stages, will lead to an initial drop in confidence.
Neo believes he's a good project manager. He also knows that he's growth-oriented and is willing to challenge his understanding of things to get better. For Neo, in order to be successful, he realizes he and his team must be willing to test their original thoughts and ideas, as well as their beliefs. Trying to stay confident through the whole process, he recognizes, would be ineffectual, because what he and the team do not know also limits their ability to plan and deliver. As Neo and the team begin to experience greater project timeline departures from what was projected, they officially enter the learning curve process.
Neo is meeting again with Morpheus to discuss the new changes and challenges that he has been experiencing with the project. During this conversation, Morpheus connects Neo with the concept of Leadership Quotient or LQ. He explains that LQ is the idea that we create leadership from the genius or the value that we have within us. It suggests that in order for Neo to improve and grow, he must factor out what within him is genuine and aligned and what is not. In other words, Neo must be both open to learn and also to unlearn the things that no longer serve him and that hold him back. In understanding his leadership quotient, Neo will be able to discover his true abilities and capacities. With this comes a clarity of discernment and a comfort in being able to more self-assuredly navigate unknown circumstances, knowing that it isn’t only in what he knows, but also in what he feels and senses that will lead to a successful outcome. LQ demonstrates Neo’s ability to position himself correctly, lean into uncertainty with curiosity and to sit in a place of openly receiving what presents itself so that he can understand what is truly occurring in his project.
For Neo, to do well in his role as project manager, he needs to have a sense of the direction of his project. The story he tells about this is up to him (and his team). As the project develops, Neo learns more about why Leadership Quotient is so important. He begins to see that it isn’t just about the data or about what various systems and analyses have to show him, but that it is ultimately about how everything is assembled into the story that is being told. For example, Neo and his team can use a project management system to analyze and test the various data points in terms of status and completion rate to give him a sense of where the project is going. However, what the project management system does not tell him is the emotional dynamics that prevent people from getting things done which impedes progress. The system also cannot control how Neo responds and leads his team in this project. His systems and data processing cannot inform Neo of the people dynamics, cultural environment and personal, internal environment that equally affect the outcome of the project. Neo knows that the data will give him one snapshot of what's happening, but he must be informed on the data, the people dynamics and on his own, personal positioning in order to have the complete story from which to develop understanding and a sense about what it will take to carry the project through.
Based on the previously shared information about IQ, EQ and PQ, the Leadership Quotient comprises all three. It’s the leader’s ability to tap into, comprehend and utilize what they think, feel and sense to shepherd things forward successfully.
Through this project journey, Neo comes to understand a few things: IQ is about institutional and experiential learning. It considers the certifications and exams that he has taken, his learned and earned skills. IQ focuses on the past, what is known through previous experience. Living from IQ, means considering the things he has accomplished and has been exposed to himself and through others. Neo also sees that EQ is about how he feels based on his perception of the world and his past experiences with it. Based on the story he chooses to tell about any given situation, it will elicit certain emotions that will develop into how Neo then feels about that situation. EQ is about Neo’s ability to understand, manage and utilize his emotions to effectively connect with others and move things towards positive outcomes. Finally, with PQ, the last component for true leadership, Neo finds he is often challenged in his thinking and what he feels based on what he is sensing. PQ is about hunch and gut instinct. It is the quotient that cuts through the vagueness of what is unknown to find certainty in what we intuit. Throughout history, the greatest leaders have been the ones who can act off of instinct, as well as intelligence and emotional resolve. In fact, PQ often has us moving outside the box of reason and emotion to do what we sense is right. Neo is developing his awareness that his IQ, EQ and PQ together determine the success of his project and the impact it will ultimately have on himself, his team, the customer and Matrix Corporation.
Stay tuned for our next month’s installment to see Neo’s journey from Awareness to Engagement...entering the phase where most people quit. Find out why.
The Climb to Unknown
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Over the last 25 years, Vinay Raman has been a leader in the analytics and leadership space. His professional work has included empowering warfighters, in high and national-security situations to make better and faster decisions when in theater. This work has been applied across various agencies like the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, creating greater effectiveness through data and analytics.
When coupled with his experience in helping small and large companies grow, there was one key insight to the success of any organization: people’s desire and passion.
After many years of analysis and experience with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence he came to a realization that capturing people’s hearts and passions is the true unlock to an organization's greatest potential. He is focused on empowering leaders to unlock their greatest potential as well as lifting their people and employees to their greatest heights. His current company, CAARMO, is a platform that allows company leaders to take action by using their existing data effectively to empower all to ultimate effectiveness. He has even been told by some employees he actually practices what he preaches! (NOTE he is curious as to what their motivation was in saying that)
To date he has personally founded, built or run 6 companies from 15 employees to over 180. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. He currently resides in North Carolina after 22 years in the Washington, DC area with his beautiful (and smarter) wife and three children.
Hear more of Vinay: The Business Blind Spots Exposed - Podcast