On Tuesday, May 14th, 2024, the Project Management Institute – Orange County (PMI-OC) chapter hosted its latest dinner meeting in Irvine, CA, featuring a compelling keynote presentation by David Shostak titled “Getting the Best From People.” The audience was a crowd of project management professionals eager to enhance their leadership skills.

David Shostak, a seasoned expert in project management and leadership, began his presentation with an engaging scenario. He posed a question to the audience: “Your ship is in a storm, as the captain, how will you get your ship to port?” This exercise prompted attendees to form small groups and discuss the type of leadership and skills necessary to navigate such a challenging situation. The scenario set the stage for a deeper exploration of effective leadership traits and strategies.

Following the initial discussion, David posed a critical question: “How do you get the best from people?” He emphasized the importance of soft skills in leadership, such as effective communication, motivation, conflict resolution, honesty, and risk management. David highlighted that leaders need to be tough, persistent, and goal-oriented to succeed.

David outlined five key strategies to get the best from people:

1. Connect with People: Building genuine relationships and understanding your team members.

2. Work Together and Find Common Ground: Fostering collaboration and aligning team goals.

3. Communication Skills: Ensuring clear and effective communication channels.

4. Problem Solving: Adapting, improvising, and overcoming challenges as they arise.

5. Negotiation Skills: Navigating conflicts and reaching mutually beneficial agreements.

Throughout his presentation, David shared personal stories and real-world examples that illustrated these principles in action. These insightful anecdotes inspired the audience to reflect on and share their experiences. The audience were given the opportunity to share their stories of how they worked with people to achieve project success. This interactive section allowed the audience to exchange ideas and best practices, further emphasizing the importance of teamwork and effective leadership.

David also discussed the critical role of Communication and Emotional Intelligence in leadership. He stressed that leaders must be adept at managing relationships and understanding the emotional dynamics within their teams. Prioritizing emotional intelligence, he argued, is essential for navigating the complexities of leadership.

Returning to the ship analogy, David revisited what it takes to lead effectively in tough situations. He underscored the need for leaders to be high-powered, persistent, determined, and focused on their goals. He emphasized the importance of a diverse toolbox of human capabilities, including empathy, honesty, integrity, and resilience. Trust, he noted, is a cornerstone of effective leadership—without it, team cohesion and success are jeopardized.

In the final part of the session, David asked attendees to return to their small groups and reconsider the ship scenario with their newfound insights. This reflective exercise allowed participants to apply the strategies discussed and explore how their approach to leadership might evolve.

The dinner meeting concluded with a sense of camaraderie and renewed purpose among attendees. David Shostak’s keynote provided valuable lessons and practical tools that will undoubtedly help project managers get the best from their teams, navigate challenges, and achieve their goals.

Content Contributor: Roderick Conwi PMP
Roderick Conwi – Sr. Content Contributor
Freezepoints eMagazine Publications Team
PMI Orange County
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