A to Z challenge – J – June 2021

uggling a number of different elements in a project at any one time was once seen as a sign of management strength, reliability and even competence. It was thought that the person who had so much on their plate must be important and clever. But the juggling approach has two fatal flaws.

Firstly, just as in a circus, juggling is putting on a show of cleverness and business. The reality of course is that sooner or later the project manager is going to drop a ball. The performance will stop, potentially catastrophically. It is just a matter of when and over what. There are stresses and strains of decision-making in any project. Some may be time critical. At these points it needs a level head and calmness to make the judicious decision in a timely and accurate way, not someone who can barely string five words together in 30 seconds.

The second fatal flaw is that in having made a decision the project manager does not have the ability both to keep it under review and react equally calmly and with humility if that decision turns out to be wrong. Honesty and humility are vital to the integrity and deliverability of any project. The project manager who can be seen unhappily juggling so many different things and unable to react coherently should not have been chosen to lead a project. Calm and sound judgment is crucial in picking the project manager and an essential quality in the project manager. All projects need a judicious leader, not a performing juggler.