If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
— Rudyard Kipling
As managers we are constantly challenged to show the value of our profession with hard numbers and return on investment, to show progress, and to “fix it”. But the real value of our leadership is to project confidence and set the example. You can’t measure the effects of emotion on a project, but they can be observed if you’re looking for them*.
Our emotions have a great impact on those around us. Usually more than we realize. The emotions of people around us, even at work (especially at work), impact us more than we ever want to admit. Sometimes they even creep up on us and pop out when we least expect it.
As the manager of a trouble project your team will be watching you hard for the tiniest clues. Then they will take on or be affected by the behaviours your display. Sometimes best thing you can do is smile, even when things are horrible. Sometimes the best we can manage is to not yell, even if it seems justified and it’s really really hard not to. Morale will depend in large part on your body language, tone of voice, facial expression, and confidence. People want to trust their leaders. Be self-aware and in control of yourself so they can trust you.
You can’t salvage a troubled project just by pretending everything’s all right, but you can certainly drive a successful one into the ground with doom and gloom, cynicism, and pessimism. Trust in yourself, your staff, the tools and processes. Then project that confidence.
*. . . and for the record, this is the first and last time that I’ll admit that you can’t measure something on project, but I’ll bet you can come up with a good proxy if you think about it hard enough.