The Courage to Acknowledge

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Categories: Leadership, Teams

Last June, I blogged about a presentation on acknowledgment that I gave to 800 project managers at a conference in Helsinki, Finland. Afterward, Agoston Nagy, a participant, shared with me a conversation he had with a senior project executive of an Indian power company.

Mr. Nagy's colleague asked the senior project executive what the most important competence of a project manager is.

"He answered: 'A project manager must have the courage to acknowledge when somebody does a good job,'" Mr. Nagy recalls.

We must consider that this executive was responsible for 16 simultaneous power plant construction projects and many other projects in his company. The team took in accolades: One project won an international award for excellence in 2005, two others were finalists in the same competition in 2006 and another project won in 2008.

I really appreciate how Mr. Nagy's example illustrated the need for courage when acknowledging a co-worker.

Why courage? Isn't it a simple thing to let someone know how much you appreciate them, how their being part of your team makes you certain you will complete the project successfully?

No, it isn't. Acknowledging others in a heartfelt and truthful way makes us feel at least somewhat vulnerable. We are not certain that they will accept the acknowledgment in the right way: What if they think we are trying to manipulate them? What if they think we are not being sincere?

That's why we need to be courageous and take the risk -- at all times. It is worth it, no matter how vulnerable it makes us feel!

Posted by Judy Umlas on: June 07, 2010 12:46 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Gaurav Bhatnagar
What if they ask for raise after acknowledging their good effort? And company is not planning to give any increments?

It is good to acknowledge. It makes wonder. But do not over do it.

Jacob George
This should be a habit for any project manager to acknowledge team members / peers and even competition. Acknowledgment would also mean accepting and taking responsibility for one's actions. It all the more becomes relevant in today's environment of unrelenting challenges.

What if they think that we're not really entitled to give the complements? From what I've seen so far, this is mostly the case why the project manager is hesitant to complement the resources.

Quite a few project managers are promoted into PM from within. Imagine the awkward situation when a PM is telling is previous workmate, "Hey, great job! I am very proud of you." There is no way to make this look right, and complementing your old workmate for his "good job" will not make you a better project manager in his/her perspective; it makes you a show-off (again, in his/her perspective).

Editors’ note: on June 8, a few commenters’ names were lost due to human error. We deeply apologize.

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