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Episode 353: Leading Teams as an Enlightened Project Manager (Premium)

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This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. PDU for PMP®:
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Joe Drammissi, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM
Joe Drammissi, MSPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM

If our first discussion about Enlightened Project Management with Joe Drammissi, PMP ( didn’t give you enough ideas on how to be more mindful and enlightened in your day to day work, then you definitely want to listen to this premium interview.

Because after a quick review of the enlightened project management concept, Joe is going to first talk about two more easy to apply techniques, and then we are going to go through about a dozen or so tips that I have selected from his book 101 Tips for the Enlightened Project Manager.

All geared at helping you increase your leadership skills.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #353.  This is a Premium episode of The Project Management Podcast™ at and I'm Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you for being here and for supporting the Podcast.

If our first discussion about enlightened project management with Joe Drammissi didn’t give you enough ideas on how to be more mindful and enlightened in your day-to-day work then keep on listening because after a quick review of the enlightened project management concept, Joe is going to first talk about two more easy-to-apply techniques and then we are going to go through about a dozen or so tips that I have selected from his book all geared at helping you to increase your leadership skills.

So let's get going and enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female Voice: The Project Management Podcast's feature interview: Today with Joe Drammissi, author, speaker and project management trainer.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Joe! Welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!

Joe Drammissi: Well thank you, Cornelius! Thanks for having me back again. It was a fun last time and hopefully, it will be lots of fun here this time.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! So for our listeners' quick recap, please remind us: What is enlightened project management?

Joe Drammissi: Sure! Enlightened project management is again, a concept I came up with to help people get the most I guess out of their work place experience to have a happy, rewarding, productive work place experience and by doing that, you'll do a better job. You'll be more successful. Your organization will be more successful. Your company's clients and customers will be happier. It works very well all the way around. So that I guess is the main purpose of enlightened project management.

Cornelius Fichtner: And what are the main traits of an enlightened project manager?

Joe Drammissi: So we define enlightened project manager then with 6 different characteristics. The first one being, having a solid foundation of both the hard skills and the soft skills and developing that foundation through a combination of experience and training. So that would be the first characteristic.

The second characteristic then is to have a dedication or commitment through professional and personal growth on your own. You should be learning throughout your life and an enlightened project manager would strive to do that.

The third characteristic would be a true belief and commitment that people really are the most valuable asset that the organization has and as an enlightened project manager, you should be doing everything you can to help those people develop to be a successful as they can be.

The fourth characteristic then should be an ability to distinguish between a healthy and an unhealthy work place environment or work place culture. Unfortunately, too many organizations today have more of a dysfunctional culture than maybe they should. As an enlightened project manager, you should be able to recognize these things and do everything you can to help your company develop and maintain a healthy work place culture.

The fifth characteristic is a commitment to take a stakeholder relationship management approach to all your interactions with the various people that you have to interact with during your project work. By that I mean take a win-win approach to things.

When you are interacting with a stakeholder and you've got to make some decision or do something, you should go at it with the idea that I want to come up with a solution where we both win, where you try not to pick one against the other or have one win at the expense of the other. So that would be the fifth characteristic.

And then the sixth characteristic is to have a commitment to be a contribution I guess is the way to word it. When you interact with someone, go at it with the intent that you want that person to really come away with a positive interaction to walk away saying: "Boy, that was just a great interaction. I'd like to work with that person again in the future."

So those are the 6 characteristics that we would try to strive for as an enlightened project manager.

Cornelius Fichtner: At the end of the first interview, we looked at an easily applicable technique for enlightened project management. It involved inductive and deductive communication techniques. There are two more and we want to go and jump right in to those right now.

The second technique that you would like to discuss with us relates to the use of stories. Tell us about that.

Joe Drammissi: Okay! Actually, there's dozens more but we'll narrow it down to these two. So talk about stories. Stories are something that all of us do. This, again, is another example of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence or getting a good understanding of that is one of the key things that I say you should be doing as an enlightened project manager and emotional intelligence, I guess, an easy way to describe that is understanding why people and that's people including yourself behave the way that they do. Why do they do the things they do?

This thing with stories is a very common thing that pretty much all of us do. If, Cornelius says something to me for instance, I will perceive or hear what he says. I will generate a story in my mind explaining why Cornelius just said what he said. That story will generally generate an emotion or a feeling in me and that feeling will drive my response back to Cornelius.

People that study this sort of thing say that that story you tell yourself is wrong about 75% of the time. So that means your reaction back is probably not exactly right about 75% of the time.

When I was working for companies doing this, unfortunately, I was pretty bad at this. I think I was so bad at the story thing that I actually used to think it was a gift. I used to think that I always knew why people were doing what they were doing and for some reason, it seems to be directed at management more than it should be and management always seem to have an ulterior motive in my mind. And of course, I was wrong most of the time and I'm sure it caused me a lot of problems.

Once you realized this thing, you can catch yourself now because for me, it's really easy. If I hear something and I start reacting like that, what I could do is I catch myself as I do it and I could ask myself a question: Do I really know that. And the answer usually is no, I don’t really know that. I'm telling myself stories so I can catch myself before I do something that's, honestly, inappropriate before I respond in a way that wasn't maybe the best way to respond. So stories that's an example of that.

Cornelius Fichtner: The third technique is something that I don’t think our listeners will ever be able to use because nobody ever needs this. It's a technique to overcoming resistance to change. Alright, how do we do it?

Joe Drammissi: Yeah, that's a pretty a common thing. I hear this a lot as a teacher, again when I'm teaching project management thing. I'll hear from students a lot. They'll ask: "Well how can I apply this stuff at work? How can I get my management to do this or do that?"

A lot of people will have this experience where they'll go back to work. They'll see something in the classroom and they'll recognize it as something that could be very helpful for them at work. They're having a particular issue or problem or something like that at work and then it will occur to them that: Wow, yeah, what you're talking about, I could use that. That will be perfect for us." And they go back to work and they try to suggest that to their manager or something and they get this pushback or this resistance.

And a lot of times what's happening is they are not resisting the idea so much. They are resisting a perceived lost of some sort. Sometimes people are feeling or perceiving a loss of security or loss of control or loss of power or something like that. And that's what the resistance is. If you understand this, you can adjust your argument, your approach to maybe address the thing that they are resisting as opposed to just trying to argue why your idea should be tried. You could actually get at the heart of the thing they are really resisting because a lot of times, it's not your idea.

A good example I think when we're talking a little bit earlier on the first interview, I mentioned a story, a homework, assignment that I used to give to my students where they would go interview a working project manager or a program manager and then they will come back to class and we talk about what they found out. Well one of the things that they would find out, those pretty consistent from person to person from class to class was about 75% of the working project managers and program managers that they talked to out there had no formal training, no certification, no classroom training in project management. They learned everything on the job.

With some of those people, some of those people view their value as what they know, their experience are valuable to the company because of all their experience. When you go back and suggest that maybe we're doing something that's not exactly right, maybe there's a better way to do it, sometimes those people look at that as threatening because what you're saying essentially in their mind is: "Well maybe that stuff you thought you knew isn’t really quite as valuable as you thought it was." And so they're perceiving a threat and that's why sometimes you'll see that resistance to your idea. It's not that they don’t agree with idea they are resisting that. What they are resisting is a threat to their security basically because in their view, you are saying the thing that they think makes them valuable may not be as valuable as they thought it was.

So again if you understand that, you could adjust your approach or your argument there to address the thing that they are really resisting and maybe they'll be a little more successful in overcoming the resistance. So that's an example of overcoming resistance to change.

Cornelius Fichtner: We're going to stay very applicable for the remainder of the interview with lots of tips because now we are going to open up your book: "101 Tips for the Enlightened Project Manager." I've selected a number of tips here. We're going to go through them and hear what you have to say for each of those and how we can use them and how they will help us.

We're going start with tip #1: Decide to become an enlightened project manager. Is this actually a conscious decision that we have to make?


Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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