A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called “The True Role of a PM on Agile Projects”. An attribute I did not include was “Be Enthusiastic – it’s Contagious” one reason for this omission is that it is a skill that I struggle with and I did not feel qualified to talk about. My style is more reserved and I have to go outside of my comfort zone to outwardly project my eagerness. However, the fact remains that it is an important role.
If the leader of the project does not appear to show a passion for the cause then why should the other team members? Also the “- it’s contagious” portion is very important, as a social group team members easily feed off of each other’s energy levels. This is demonstrated by the presence or absence of those rare individuals who have the personality to be able to lift a group. When they are present everyone feels the lift and buzz, when they are absent there is hole, and everyone comes down a notch.
By introducing a positive, enthusiastic approach we nudge the team mood in the right direction. Nobody wants to work in pessimistic drudgery. We are happier, get more done, and overcome obstacles easier when people are enthusiastic. Obviously, it needs to be genuine and in character with your true nature. Some phony “Woo-hoo’s” will fool no one and undermine your credibility, but even if you tend to be quiet, true enthusiasm can be conveyed in the way in which you engage with the team and other stakeholders.
The reason I’m writing about this today is something I picked up last night from the PMISAC awards. Tana Goertz, finalist from “The Apprentice 3” gave a keynote speech that provided the tip “fake-it until you make-it”. Now I know I have just said we should not be fake when showing enthusiasm, but that was not her point. Tana’s message was that if you realize that something is important then you should do it, even if you struggle, until you can do it well. By practicing this awkward, but important skill, it will become easier.
Another take on this is, is “if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly”, it took me a while to understand this oxymoron. However, it means if something is good and important we should try to do it (even if we are bad at it) because at least a little is better than nothing at all. (Another favourite oxymoron truism is “You lead people by standing behind them”, physically impossible, but correct in principle.)
So, if you are a little like me and struggle to project enthusiasm give it a try, do it anyway. Be sincere and express it in your own way, enthusiasm is contagious and brings the energy to push through setbacks.