Our youngest daughter graduated high school on Saturday. We’re fortunate that our state recently lifted the outside mask-mandate so we could all gather in the stands while the kids sat (socially distanced) on the football field.
Lots of speeches, of course. But the one that struck me was from the Principal, Mr. Callahan. He talked about how amazing this class of 2021 is and how much he’ll miss them. He even broke down a few times, which got everyone else tearing up, too.
As expected, Mr. Callahan made a point to acknowledge the kids’ resilience during these past 15 months.
But then he started talking about their natural leadership during this tough year.
He noted how this group of students worked to bolster the spirits of all grades, thinking of creative ways to keep everyone engaged, and working hard to give the seniors different types of events to come together as a class, since all their usual rites of passage were cancelled.
Then he pivoted and my ears really perked up.
He said the world desperately needs leaders. People who speak clearly, who don’t hide behind social media posts, who check the facts, and remain open-minded. People who lift each other up and keep everyone going. People who see what needs to be done and work hard to achieve it.
Whether these kids view themselves as leaders, they are leading. This tough situation required they step up and they did. Their character showed in times of difficulty.
As Project Managers, we lead every day. Every time we meet with a stakeholder, create a schedule, mitigate a risk, or resolve an issue, we’re demonstrating our leadership. We don’t put on a hat that tells everyone we’re in leadership mode.
Managing and leading flow seamlessly.
And like the graduates, we shine in times of crisis. How often during this pandemic have we shifted direction, adjusted workloads, thought of new ways to communicate, and held together our teams while continuing to move our projects forward?
The class of 2021 was forced to step into their leadership. Their strength and skills will change the way they approach every situation they encounter.
Let’s take a few minutes to consider how we’ve embraced our own leadership skills during the past 15 months. Are we more confident speaking to a large group of stakeholders? Have we learned to stand firm when we feel the pressure to adjust a timeline or add a requirement? Do we know how to better handle certain personality types?
And, like these recent graduates, have the challenges of the past few years helped us learn who we are, what we want, and where we’re going?