Mentor Room Recommendation: Glee

So I opened The Mentor Room in the sidebar over the weekend. Since one of my goals with this blog is to inspire you, I thought I’d pick through Amazon and make some recommendations on resources to do just that. Every couple days, I’ll write up a new review of something I’ve chosen to go in the store, so you can understand my reasons. Nothing in the Mentor Room is there by accident: I believe wisdom is found in the most unlikely of places. You may not find the majority of my recommendations as things you’d expect.

(Full disclosure: yes, I’m an Amazon affiliate, and will benefit directly, in small amounts, from any purchase you make.)

Today I’m going to recommend (wait for it)…season one of Glee.

I call Glee “High School Musical” steeped in battery acid. Presented in this show is one of the most dysfunctional environments ever conceived, with ruthless (ruthless!) backstabbing, characters telling the most bald-faced, outrageous lies, and just about every archetype imaginable. It’s also hysterically funny.

Why would I recommend this as a leadership resource to project managers? Because we have to navigate these very waters every time we start a new project. Organizations are dysfunctional; projects more so. When we bring people together to work on a project, we start with a base of people who are unaligned. In the beginning, each person marches to his or her own beat, listening to rhythms from a source we can’t see. A big part of our job is to bring all of our people into a row, and reconcile their competing agendas rather than fight them.

That’s a hard thing to do, but something that will help hugely is to have a sense of the archetypes our people belong to. For our purposes, an archetype is a grossly exaggerated representation of certain “kind” of person. By exaggerating the character, their reasons for making the decisions they do become crystal clear. We can form personal responses to archetypes based what we glean from studying them. More importantly, we can learn to recognize archetypal behaviour in the people we work with on our projects, and use what we’ve learned to respond to that behaviour in constructive ways.

Image courtesy of goldfish647 on Youtube.

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I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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