This is Part II of a six-part series about leadership for engineers preparing for their first professional leadership role.
It was the first day as project manager and Ed was sweating the moment he got into his car for the fifteen-minute drive to the office. This wasn’t just any sweat. It was the sweat that comes from fear. Ed figured that he had a lot be fearful about. Selected a month earlier to fill the role as project manager for his first major construction project, he had spent the intervening time with his head buried in the project specifics: the expected technical challenges, special design considerations, the schedule and resource plans.
Then a week ago his mentor and champion, Cindy, asked him how it was going with his team. Had it been assembled? Had he met with them? What did he know about them? What strengths and challenges did he foresee with the members? All good questions, except Ed lacked answers. Sure, the team had been assembled and he’d met with them. But his focus had been entirely on the project’s technical aspects. He hadn’t a clue about their strengths or the challenges that might arise. Although he knew their names and what expertise they were bringing to the team, he had no idea about who they were. Besides, was that really necessary? He was being paid to get a project designed and built, not hold hands.
Yet for some reason, Ed’s anxiety level was increasing the closer he got to the office. Although he thought he had a good grip on the project, he seriously questioned whether he really did after his talk Cindy last week. This morning he was bringing his team together in an attempt to get them more involved in the project as the start date approached and to get to know them personally. But he was stressing big time about this. Were his efforts too little and too late? Worse, would the team see his efforts as genuine? What if they figured out that he was scared about delivering success on his first run as a project manager?