Categories: Career Help, Careers, Collaboration, Communication, Continuous Learning, Human Aspects of PM, Leadership, Mentoring, SelfLeadership, Sharing Knowledge, Talent Management
By Yasmina Khelifi, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP
A few months ago, I missed an important requirement in a project. Much was at stake if it wasn’t fixed on time. Fortunately, the provider could implement it on time, but it was very tight.
How did this happen? I had a complete sense of control of the project because I delivered similar ones in the past. But I was excessively self-confident and missed some steps in the process. This project also uncovered some tacit knowledge I didn’t document.
Turns out we not only have to fight imposter syndrome, but also “overconfidence syndrome.” It is a problem that can affect any leader regardless of age, gender, experience or location.
5 main symptoms
There were some warning signs a few weeks before that I didn’t take into account. Here are some symptoms of overconfidence that can alert you:
- You are reluctant to introduce changes. Your excuse: “It has always worked like this. Why do I need to change?”
- You don’t request feedback. Your excuse: “If people don’t say anything, it means they are satisfied.”’
- You shelve ideas quickly, indicating no deadline. Your excuse: “We’ll talk about them later.”
- You begin to be more task oriented than relationship oriented. “I’m overloaded. I don’t have time to talk, and we have to move forward.”
- You don’t acknowledge efforts made, but instead focus on what is missing. Your excuse: “I’m a perfectionist.”
Risks of inaction
Taking no action may have harmful effects on your projects. You can make new mistakes that will delay the projects. Some members of the team will feel demotivated by the behavior you display. Some will feel paralyzed by your overconfidence and make mistakes.
Overconfidence for me translated into a kind of scornful tone that I wasn’t aware of until some colleagues raised it to me. Since then, I’ve used some simple “medicines” that worked for me…
5 healing medicines
Before hitting a wall, there are some healing recipes to set up:
- Help a team member: It will give you a different perspective of the issues and constraints faced by the team.
- Mentor a young project manager: For me, it works because I remember how little guidance I got—and I’m back with my feet on the ground.
- Volunteer for a non-profit: For instance, you can spend a weekend helping an association. It is a way to meet diverse people and hear different stories of success—and failure. It reminds you how vulnerable we can be and how fragile life is.
- Write regularly in a journal: Block some time in your calendar and reflect on what happened during the week. What behaviors are you not proud of? What kind of role model were you for the team in that particular situation?
- Build a squad of mentors: Ask them to alert you if they notice any symptoms of overconfidence.
All of these will help you feel like you’re back in the trenches with a learning mindset! It will develop humility, tolerance and empathy.
What other healing medicines do you have to help you keep your feet on the ground despite your success as a project manager? Share your thoughts below!