Manage Yourself First

Manage Yourself First

When I was in 5th grade, I earned the Cub Scout’s highest badge, the Arrow of Light, and transitioned to the Boy Scouts. I liked finally being with the older kids, and learning a whole new level of skills. At the beginning of every meeting, we’d recite the Scout Promise, the Scout Motto, and my personal favorite, the Scout Law.

The Scout Law is not actually a law. It’s a list of attributes that describe the character and behavior expected of you. These are, in order: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.     

I found this very comforting.

It’s not that the other recitations didn’t have merit to them. The Scout Motto, “Be Prepared”, is a very useful habit to instill. I still bring 2 pens to meetings, just in case.

I liked the Scout Law because simply being prepared didn’t help me distinguish between right and wrong, it just helped with being organized. In fact, villainy usually requires that one be quite prepared and organized. Can you imagine Darth Vader being unprepared for a meeting with the Emperor? “What is thy bidding, Master… and can I borrow a pen to write it down?”

My project management corollary to the Scout Motto is Rule #1: Manage Yourself First.

To credibly manage projects and teams in an ethical way, PMs must keep their personal lives in order, must meet or exceed the standards they set for others, and must be exemplary in their behavior. In short, we must manage themselves first.

Like the Scout Motto, Rule #1 can be helped along by listing the attributes that make up good character.

If we look to the PMI, we find there are 4 expectations presented in its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. These are Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, and Honesty.

I like this list of expectations to help flesh out Rule #1, but I like it even better when aligned in a matrix with the Scout Law and my rules, as in the table below.

Note: Looking at this table, I was surprised to see that neither the PMI’s expectations nor my rules have any correlation with Kindness, Obedience, Cheerfulness or Reverence. Oh well, good thing I learned them back with Troop 509!

PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct Boy Scout Law My 21 Rules
Honesty Trustworthy 1. Manage yourself first. 13. No secrets. 14. No surprises. 15. No rumors.
Fairness Loyal 19. Appreciate the top performers. 20. Recognize there are various forms of reward.
Responsibility Helpful 7. Be more than a news anchor. 10. Prioritize. 12. Use the subject line. 21. Plan the end.
  Friendly 18. Know what people like to eat.
Respect, Fairness Courteous 16. Kiss the ring.
Honesty Thrifty 17. Use only the resources you need.
Honesty, Responsibility Brave 2. Be the voice of the project. 6. Have a naive mind. 8. Take Personal Responsibility. 9. Have managerial courage. 11. Break your fragile ego.
Responsibility Clean 3. Have a Vision. 4. Align all decisions with the Vision. 5. Determine decision makers with RACI.