Having grown up in a family of athletes, and being an athlete myself, sportsmanship was very important. Sportsmanship is a style, an attitude that has the ability to positively influence everyone around you, such as the behavior of congratulating a winner promptly and willingly. Just recently, I attended my first lacrosse match. At the end of the match, the winning and losing teams met in the middle of the field and smacked hands in congratulations, which I thought was cool. But then I spoke with a member of the losing team about it, who replied, “Well, as a matter of fact, the winners spit in their hands first before they hit the hands of the losing team members.” I thought that was so wrong, and certainly unsportsmanlike. It got me thinking, however, of times when I may have been unsportsmanlike on projects without even realizing it.
When and Why We Are UnSportsmanlike
- When I am unprepared for meetings. Those times when I walked into a meeting unprepared, perhaps because I had gotten hit by certain things, I became defensive about the work of my team, or our organization or myself.
- When I have inaccurate or outdated information. Going into a meeting with or providing inaccurate information is not a way to influence a situation or person positively.
- When I have unconfirmed assumptions. There have been times I was rushed, or didn’t take the time, or thought I knew everything; I didn’t concur with my team members and walked into a meeting with unconfirmed assumptions.
- When I defend my team improperly. Maybe a team member missed something and yet I defended them, or on the flip side, maybe I defended my customers to my team improperly.
How To Be Sportsmanlike
- Prepare. An athlete does not walk out on a field or court without being prepared. It just doesn’t happen. We are practicing and preparing with accountability partners and team members, just as a sports team does with specialized coaches and a head coach. It’s key to be prepared.
- Obtain updated information.
- Confer with team.
- Remain non-biased.
Below are some questions you can ask your accountability partner or team to prepare you for meeting with stakeholders, clients or your change control board:
- What am I overlooking? I’m prepared for my meeting; help me see what I may have overlooked.
- What will they be asking? Have your accountability partner think through their perspective and interests.
- Is what I’m presenting-my position, speech, approach-of value to the stakeholder or client? If we go into meetings talking about things that serve the team or organization versus the stakeholder, then they are probably not going to be interested in listening and we will not have a positive influence.
Sportsmanship is an important conduct for project management professionals to practice, and I hope you find these examples and tips helpful.
Jennifer Whitt, PMP is a speaker, trainer, Certified Performance Coach, author, and company president of PDUs2Go.com. She is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and knows how difficult it can be to make time for classroom or online learning so she has developed a new way for Project Managers to Earn n’ Learn while on the go. For more information, please visit http://www.pdus2go.com
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