The Soul of a Project #2: Speak from the Gut!

by Gary Monti on January 31, 2012

Good communicators survive fact-checks. Good communication, though, is more than listing facts. That was one of the bullet points from last week’s blog. Let’s peel back that opening sentence and see what lies underneath. It is critical for getting to the soul of the project.

There are three components associated with making a connection and communicating spontaneously:

  • Body language
  • Tone of voice
  • Verbal content

Believability has to do with listeners feeling all three components are interconnected and mutually supporting. It’s what is called speaking with integrity. Now, this isn’t moral integrity since a person committed to dark side behavior can show integrity. There is another component needed…being principle-based. We’ll save that for a later blog.

Getting back to the three components the question surfaces, “What does this have to do with the soul of a project?” The answer is, “Quite a bit!” It goes beyond knowing what to do. That portion, knowing, is wrapped up in the verbal content. To convey the project spirit and light a fire under people there is more that is needed. It is conviction. Conviction shows in the tone of voice and the body language. Combining these with verbal content we end up doing something referred to in everyday language as walking the walk.

It’s this walking the walk that comes across as speaking from the gut. The sponsor, PM, team lead, subject matter expert, functional support personnel, etc., all can take a leadership position by speaking from the gut.

The example that comes to mind is the commitment to the Apollo program. I’ve met more than one engineer who was fortunate enough to work on that program. They all say the same thing. The work had purpose. They felt significant.

There were conflicts to resolve and problems to solve. The point, though, is everyone had the same resolve, i.e., they wanted to support being part of getting the first man on the moon. Each, in their own way, spoke from the gut.

They dipped into the pool of uncertainty and pushed the limit of what they knew working to create something even better. They had passion. This passion is different than a blind fanaticism. It is more about being grounded in the present day project realities, determining the goals, assessing the gap, and working to achieve success.

When speaking from the gut a leader conveys this and both supports and inspires those around him to strive for the best. Emotions are allowed to flow. This is important. Why? Emotions show where we are with the situation, e.g., confident, afraid, bored, etc. When speaking from the gut the leader lets others see what is going on inside himself. He becomes the living embodiment of the project. His emotional state is a reflection of the project’s status. This is what brings about the connection. Others equally committed resonate with the leader.

Does this mean a leader is dramatic? Not necessarily. We each have our own styles. When speaking with integrity one is true to his style. That honesty encourages others to do the same rather than simply mimicking and being a ”yes” person. They end up working as a team.

A faith sets in that the project CAN be achieved.

Life is breathed into all the documentation. At that point, the project comes to life.

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