Are You Able to Say “It’s Time to Bail”?

Many will tell you that the sign of a great leader is a positive attitude, regardless of what is thrown at them.

I prefer to suggest that the sign of a great leader is a realistic attitude, able to see the good, bad and ugly before, during and after the fact and to be able to act on it.

As project leaders, we need to be able to stand up at any time and say, ‘It’s time to bail’.  But that is not easy.  Without the ‘title’, it is often difficult to be recognized when it comes to a major pronouncement like this. It has always been one of our biggest obstacles in the role we play within the organization: no authority.

I may not be able to give my project managers the organization title, or authority, they deserve but they can certainly earn it.

We can earn this authority in many ways:

  • By thinking beyond ‘on time, on budget and on scope’ – because that does not cut it in today’s business environment and our clients deserve more.
  • By seeking out the ‘WHY?’ in every project – so we can work and make decisions with a better foundation of knowledge.
  • By understanding the value our work brings to the business, community, end-user or others – so that we can be part of the discussion at the executive level.
  • By really understanding the numbers – because that is what drives almost all of our projects.

We need the business acumen to understand the situation clearly and to recommend some tough decisions.  Without this, no one will listen.

I want my project managers to have the wisdom and strength to be able to talk truth to power, at all levels, and to be able to say “It’s time to bail”.

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2 thoughts on “Are You Able to Say “It’s Time to Bail”?”

  1. Lou Breithaupt

    The PM writes the Charter, and the Sponsor approves it. Some Charters are Statements of Work that serve as a contract, others are high level documents that serve as a guide and never change. It’s the PMO and Steering Committee cultures that determines this.

  2. David, the simple yet terrifying principle of speaking “truth to power” is critical to the success of many organizations and leadership roles including PM and beyond. It takes strong character, courage and often mentorship from those who came before you to be comfortable in “calling it” and deciding it’s time to bail.

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