in Leadership, Organizational Development, Project Management, Self-Help

Contribute Beyond Your Title With Assumed Responsibility And Take The Right Decision!

Easier are the decisions where one side is right and the other is wrong however in most situations, leaders do not have that liberty.

Instead, they need to choose between the two rights. They are literal sticky situations specifically because each side is strongly embedded in one of the core, elemental paradigms.

Photo Credit: Randy Son Of Robert's Flickr photostream

Here is a story about Peter, the project manager who assumed responsibility, led beyond his title and made a difference by his decision.

Quandary or the Growth Opportunity?

Peter was working as a project manager with a small but growing software solutions provider company.  For last few months, he was working on a project which was critical for the client – Caroline.

Caroline was very happy with the way the project was progressing; especially with the way Peter was managing it. Peter never missed a Status report and used to keep Caroline updated with the progress by every possible means, always.

In fact, Caroline’s positive feedback was one of the reasons behind Peter’s recent handsome salary rise.

Quandary of Two Rights
On Thursday morning, Peter got an email from his CEO instructing him to “hide” important information in the weekly status report which was supposed to be sent on Friday.

Benefit of hiding the information was continuation of the contract with Caroline for at-least next 6 months which meant a lot of money for Peter’s company.

On the other side, Caroline may go bankrupt in next 6 months if she continues funding the project which had no future – at least it was apparent with the information which was to be hidden.

Peter, the project management professional, was well aware that as a project in-charge he has to do the right thing for the project. He wanted to inform Caroline about the fact but he was asked by his superior NOT to do that.

Now, he has to make a choice between two rights. Between integrity (with the client) versus commitment (towards his own company).

Now what would he do? Would he send the status report and pretend that he doesn’t know about the “hidden” fact or update the client about the situation which will lead his company to lose the contract?

The Decision
Peter decided to Eat That Frog and chose a road less traveled.

He decided to meet his CEO to verbalize that he won’t hide that information in the status report and still do well for the company.

Peter quickly developed a business plan which would enable his organization to earn the money they were losing if they unhide the truth to Caroline and presented to his CEO.

“This plan is not bullet-proof and there is no guarantee we will gain the money we are going to lose,” paused the CEO.

“But, it’s definitely a way to go!  Peter. You, the leader beyond your title – Project Manager – have made me realize that the path I was heading was faulty and was not in the favor of our company’s long term sustainable success,” CEO ceded slowly.

“Go ahead and update Caroline with the facts. Even if we lose the contract we will at-least win a friend who will be ready to stand by our company for the remaining life,” added the CEO.

Peter sent the status report without hiding the fact. Caroline had taken the decision to stop further development on this project. Actually, stopping this project saved Caroline from going bankrupt also.

On the other side, CEO worked with Peter on the business plan he developed, made it bullet-proof and stared executing it.

6 Months Later: Peter, who is now leading the SBU as per the revised business plan, got a call from Caroline who wanted to start a new project which was 10 times bigger in size, of course with Peter’s company.

This was the story about 3 such quandaries which stand as fundamental models or paradigms while deciding from two-rights quandaries.

  1. Honesty versus Commitment – Honesty towards his profession and commitment towards the company.
  2. Personal interests versus Organization’s – Hiding the fact was easy for Peter but was going to be bad for the company over the long run.
  3. Quick-fix versus Long-standing – Again, the quick-fix –  hiding the fact – would have affected the company adversely over the long term.

In such situations, first thing you need to do is to exclaim, as Peter did.  The people around you will know it nevertheless.

Everyone will learn it the harder way if you don’t cry it out.

Pause. Take a deep-breath. Decide how you are going to work out the problem. Make an alternative plan and execute it with the specific purpose.

Power Question: In quandaries, do you assume responsibility and take the may-be-tougher but the right decision?

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  • Insightful and very well Written Utpal – demonstrates that sometimes, challenging the obvious and presenting an alternative thought process results in a win-win-win situation where individual wins, organization wins and client wins too.

    It takes a lot of guts to go beyond the normal (challenge the view of CEO), lot of commitment to client (to think about their business), lot of integrity (to think about company’s interest) and lot of courage (to speak up what is right and then stand by its consequences).

    Thanks for sharing this story – Long live Peter!

  • Tanmay,

    Thanks for giving it a new definition – win-win-win! and pointing out the integrity, commitment and consequence aptly which Peter had to pass through.

    Have a nice week ahead there.


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  • Pranav Gupta

    10 out of 10

  • Thanks Pranav for the rating. I am happy to know that you liked the story.


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  • intresting article indeed, however this dosent happen in most of the companies…the top management (here the CEO) should be really appreciated more than the PM. actually what happens in most of the organizations is that this level of transparency is never entertained with client specially when the critical information related to project is concerned. and if you show the courage to put forward your views on sharing these infos….you would be looked with a yello eye for the remaining career in that organization. these things demands truely comminted top management who LISTENS TO THE MIDDLE MANAGEMENT and considers their thoughts as well….

  • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Kruanl.

    While I agree that this situation is the most idealistic situation and doesn’t happen in most of the companies, Such actions from top management are what differentiates a normal organization with a world class organization.

    Sometimes, Leading Beyond a Title depends upon the type of organizations for sure but a leader always has the choice (I’d say a humble duty towards oneself) to find the right kind of organization for him to perform.


  • krunal

    thanks utpal…its true what you said…but the composit and complex situatiions sometimes forces the decisions and frankly i hate the sentence…..”according to the project dynamics” coz under this sentence…much of the things that are worth doing and must be done are neglected….

  • I agree Krunal.

    Many a times, project stakeholders, organizations and people around us kind of compel us to take specific ‘action’ considering the project dynamics.

    In such situations, a Leader Beyond his Title should choose to collect all the data to make his point stronger and then present his case.

    It is also true that many times, depending upon organization culture, he will be seen with yellow eyes… but still true Leaders are at the source of things not at the effects. At least they make the effort with their 100% and learn something out of their effort.


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