In my last post, I shared some of the responses from the Survey of Project Managers on Emotional Intelligence. The question I referred to was about experts or thought leaders in project management. A number of leadership and PM personalities received more than one vote including Harold Kerzner, Steve Cohn, Rita Mulcahy, Peter Drucker and Jack Welch. One of the people I did not mention who received just one vote was Donald Trump.
On first blush, it would seem that real estate mogul Trump has nothing at all to do with project management. However, after giving it some thought, I have to agree and perhaps cast my own vote for the Don.
Trump has helped me with my identity as a project manager. Before the popular television show The Apprentice, my wife would often have trouble describing to others what I did. “Well, he helps with technology projects” was something she might have said. When the Apprentice came along, it introduced project management to the television audience. In the show, teams compete on a specific assignment. Each teams selects a project manager for each assignment. The project manager performs that role for the assignment to the best of their ability before the TV audience.
The conclusion of the show is the board room scene where someone gets fired. Depending on how the teams performed against each other, there will be someone removed from their ranks. Even my 9-year old knows the popular refrain “You’re Fired” from the board room scene of the show. So the service that the show has done for project management is to acknowledge what the rest of us have known for a long time: the project manager is the first one fired when things go wrong.
Of course I am joking. To be fair, it is not always the PM that is fired.
There are a couple of things that I like about this show. The first is that they are making “project manager” a mainstream term. The second thing that I like is that there is an accountability factor. Someone needs to be accountable for the performance and results of the team. Usually this is the project manager. I like that the show is clear about it and that the stakes are high. If you don’t perform as an apprentice, you will be cut from the show.
So my vote is for Donald Trump for PM thought leader. He is making project managers a household term and not glossing over the fact that performance is important and to be successful means doing your very best.