As a Program Manager, you are constantly being watched by your team. They are looking to see if you know how to make a decision, if you have character and if you know how to prioritize. They want to know if you are logical and if your actions match your words.
These people want to be led. As Engineers, Designers, members of Purchasing, Operations staff, Sales, Quality Engineers, they are prepared to bring excellence and sweat to the cross functional team, but they want to know if you know how to orchestrate the team to deliver on the obligations of the enterprise.
The inexperienced Program Managers that I have had working for me in the past try to establish their credibility with politics or frequent lessons on PMBOK or other Program Management tools. The team quickly learns that there are no Program Management tools for any problem they are experiencing. All the team hears is: “Ready, FIRE!, aim”. What the team needs is the Program Manager’s most important tool: leadership. The successful Program Managers allow processes to take a backseat to problem solving and solutions.
When the team see’s the Program Manager accept blame for the team and not single out an individual, the Program Manager earns credibility (of course, someone that just can’t get the job done needs to be dealt with, but I’m talking about the “nobody gets killed for a mistake” approach to leadership).
Also, when the Program Manager protects the team from unreasonable customers, they earn credibility. When the customer insists on a solution but the Program Manager explains that the team must analyze and decide before it can implement, the Program Manager gains credibility. When the Program Manager leads with uncompromising integrity and character, the team will trust their leader based on credibility.
Programs are not long enough to lose credibility and regain it. So, protect this valued resource at all times.
Ready, aim, FIRE!