Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Leadership Lessons: Lou Russell

I was lucky enough to sit down with Lou Russell, CEO, Learning Facilitator, Russell Martin & Associates, to talk about leadership. Today, leadership is a hot topic among the project management community because a project manager’s role goes far beyond task-related deliverables. Although the project manager must be able to effectively manage goals related to time, scope and cost, the work does not stop here since the project manager must also be able to manage numerous issues and goals, and be able to lead the people performing them.  

Russell is speaking at the upcoming ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts 2014 conference in Seattle. He will be presenting a session entitled, “Emotional Intelligence for Project Team Decision Making.” This year, PW&WCBA combines professional training alongside real world practicality for richer, more holistic leadership development. It's no wonder it's become the actionable playbook for advancing PM and BAs for over a decade.

Check out what Russell had to say:

IIR: How do you, as a leader, stand out in a crowd in this competitive business world?

Russell: We challenge people to not give up on project management just because it’s hard.  And to help, we have created a lean version of PM with some radical ideas which include building a project charter in 45 minutes or less, and working back from the end date/budget.  All of this is done with fun, fast, flexible and measurable tools and process.

IIR: What are characteristics of a GREAT leader?

Russell: A GREAT leader is focused on serving others, not themselves.

IIR: How does a successful leader communicate?

Russell: A successful leader always seeks first to understand / listen.

IIR: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

Russell: There are many, and Mike Donahue is my personal coach, and has been for many years. His advice/voice is always in my head.

IIR: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization or team?

Russell: How to improve the performance of our customers in a measurable way, and how to help my team grow past what they believe their limits are.

IIR: As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?

Russell: Lots of laughing.

IIR: How do you encourage creative thinking within your team or organization?

Russell: Everyone on my team has full ownership of everything they do, and can change it in any way to make us all better. They know that and do that.  Failure is fine – that’s how people learn. Failure twice is a blind spot and needs mitigation, which is part of my job.

IIR: Which is most important to your organization or team? (mission, core values or vision?)
How do you communicate the “core values” to your team?

Russell: Our current mantra is Scalable and Sustainable. We will only exceed as ONE with many.  

IIR: How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?

Russell: We share our Mission, Vision, Values and spend lots of time with them. 

IIR: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Russell: Trust in providence with a humble heart.  

IIR: What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Russell: The perception of being busy when we could be wasting our time on the wrong things.

IIR: What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?

Russell: Avoidance of conflict and accountability 

IIR: Can you explain the impact that social media has made on you as a leader?

Russell: It connects us to others every minute of the day (good) and provides us with a huge diversion to not focus (bad).  

IIR: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Russell: Be brave, have a strategy, be ready to change that strategy and be open to growth throw trips and falls.  

IIR: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Russell: I am part of a CEO group that meets monthly to keep each other on track.

Russell will be speaking at ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts 2014, taking place in Seattle, Washington September 22-24th at the W Hotel. The 2014 program is designed with courses for all training levels, a robust agenda, and most importantly tangible lessons which you can begin implementing the day you return to your office, making you even more valuable to your organization. PW&WCBA offers attendees 36 PDU/CDUs - that's more than half of the required credits necessary to maintain your certification in just one place.

To learn more or register for the event, click here:
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