Why one should care

The stakeholders on your project can be your best allies and worst enemies.  Your actions and attitudes play a big role on which side they end up.  Some underestimate the effect of their attitude on others and assume that “as long as I act professional, how I think about others does not matter.” This cannot be farther from the truth.

Many people think they can keep their attitude towards others a secret, if they keep a facade of behaviour that conveys professionalism.  They are so wrong.  One CEO I worked with once told me “Ammar, these people must fear you in order to get anything useful out of them.” I have seen this manager in executive positions since then in three different companies.  He is well-connected.  However, everywhere he has been, he destroyed the organizational culture and soon after the company he was leading.  He plainly does not care about anyone except himself and few close family members, friends, and colleagues.  Everybody else is “small potatoes.” If you ask him what happened at each of these failures, he would blame it on the unprofessional actions of others, lack of good resources, and many other reasons, but in the opinion of most around him (even though they never dare to tell him) it is his attitude that was his biggest enemy, because he created a persona that no one can trust.

Caring about the client and other stakeholders is a prerequisite on projects.  Without it, even if success seems to be attainable, in reality, a lot is missed due to the wrong attitudes of the project manager. Some unprofessional project managers care less about their clients and their team members.  “They will never amount to anything,” he would say mocking their lack of knowledge and experience compared to his. ” They will never improve,” he would say of the client.  I know that many will make these statements sometimes out of frustration.  But others consistently make these statements in a very cool-headed fashion and all his actions always reflected that.  He would say anything to a client just to get the work accepted and get his payments.  He lies, twists the truth, and fakes his own opinions.  The client believes his ruse for a little while.  Eventually, it becomes evident to the client that this project manager does not care, and his lack of caring leads to him delivering substandard work.   Then all goes south.  When caught finally, the project manager leaves and goes on to another organization and another project.  He will probably do the same again and then again.

I believe that caring for others, the society, humanity, and all life is a prerequisite for building a healthy professional character.  It does not only make one give more and better, but it also creates fulfillment, feelings of love and caring in the person himself.  These feelings are key ingredients to a happy and content life.  I believe your circle of value creation expands with your level of caring.  Even good wishes and intent from a person with limited resources are more useful and value adding to the world than the work of many capable and talented people who lack such passion.

How does one create this care for others within him or her? I think a good first step is observation.  Trying to think of the world beyond our selfish short sighted material needs and wants.  Putting the ego aside for a while and contemplating God’s amazing creation helps.  Even at work, try to learn about the people around you.  Have empathy to their needs and wants.  Ask them questions about what matters to them.  Their goals, challenges, ambitions.  Take actions that reflect caring for others.  Give without expecting any return.  Smile.  Say something positive.  There is a lot out there that one can do.  As one friend once put it “use all your creativity to come up with ways to serve others selflessly.” It is one of the most rewarding things one can do.

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