Excessive responsibility isn’t noble, its pointless

hero mistake mokey

I just finished watching a Stargate SG-1 episode called Cori-ai. Teal’c had an excessive sense of responsibility and it could have doomed the entire future.

Let’s not focus on something fictional, however. Let us talk about something more practical. I have friends who overdo things that they don’t need to do and do other’s jobs and take on the responsibility that isn’t theirs to bear. All it does is make them stressed and let the person who should be doing the work off the hook for their lack of professionalism.

hero mistake mokey
hero mistake mokey

I have worked with vendors in IT who were not responsible for what they agreed to do. I held them to the standards of their contract, and things happened. Issues got fixed because part of being responsible is making sure others are accountable for their work.

This is one of the strange fetishes that I see on LinkedIn. People portray themselves as though they were always the linchpin that made the solution work in the past. The truth is that very few times are what we know/do the key to being successful in a project. Projects are successful when there is team communication and alignment, and people are clear on what the goal is. Then individuals don’t need to be the heroes, and the team learns and grows.

Another example. As a consultant, I once worked with a company that had a completely dysfunctional team. The project manager didn’t understand and couldn’t communicate what the goals that needed to be met were, and when I tried to iron this out it was clear the problem was that person. That person got replaced and hopefully, the project successfully completed. I went on to other consulting work at that time since that company wasn’t really ready for consultants.

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You can’t be successful at something by throwing more bodies at it. It takes an understanding of human nature and a technical understanding to make things work. People will work to fill the time allotted to them. They will try to do as little as possible, whether they are consultants or full-time employees. You have to recognize that and find a way to pace the work so that in small chunks it can be done. It isn’t that project management is complex, it is just that you have to understand that most people are resistant to really working. Many companies have this honed to an art. They hide behind meetings and wonder why nothing is getting done.

If a company has a hero coming in and fixing the problems, they have bigger problems than just getting work done.