The Bachmann Dilemma
Congresswomen Michele Bachmann often gets it wrong when it comes to history, and she has fierce beliefs about everything from light bulbs to being submissive to her husband to accusing President Barack Obama of spending $200 million per day during his visit to India. But she’s very, very popular and her supporters simply love her.
What would happen if you, as a project manager, adapted Bachmann’s style to lead your teams? Would you gain respect, lose your authority or be the laughing joke of the team? Before you say you’d be the laughing stock, perhaps a more in depth look into the Bachmann way of doing things offers a winning way—even when managing projects.
Hypnotic Yet Effective
I’ll say it here—I am a Republican. I’m not of the Tea Party extreme, but I do have some conservative views. Sure it’s fun to laugh at some of Michele’s misquotes but it’s also intriguing to watch her manage the men when debating, offering her own type of guidance on what she doesn’t believe in—homosexuality, and she’s got to have some verifiable (at least to her) reason that light bulbs are killing our pets right? And, living in Minnesota, she may deny global warming exists, but she’s probably never lived in a state where the triple digits loom each summer.
As wrong as Michele can be on some insights, she’s gaining in the polls. Much like Sarah Palin, she is angering folks, but also seems to possess hypnotic characteristics. People just can’t turn away from her.
Could qualities such as those Bachmann possesses hurt or help you when leading project teams, managing projects and dealing with conflict?
Qualities You Need?
Let’s imagine your shadow on your next project is Michele Bachmann, or that you’ve stepped into her shoes and it’s project initiation time. Instead of what would you do, let’s pretend, what would Michele do?
Leadership Style – Here, Bachmann would not only defend her right to use Six Sigma and demand tight deadlines, but she’d get every stakeholder to agree to these demands. How? Bachmann’s extreme views are also engaging, meaning her personality allows her to sway others to join her. Perhaps just a tiny bit more defense is your best offense in that first project meeting. Bachmann would certainly fall in the autocratic leadership category but for some reason, I do believe her team would still absolutely idolize her.
Goals – If you set goals like Michele, you don’t really have to do much research because every goal she ever wanted to reach was probably thought of by the time she was ten years old. Can forethought be a good thing for goal setting? It sure would alleviate some planning time if you developed a menu of goals you could pick and choose from.
Risk and Change –Bachmann is risky and she would approve project risks before looking at the what-ifs. This might harm your style, especially if decisions are made haphazardly. As far as change management, I get the feeling Michele could sway people to change real fast—or else. And, they’d do it. They are all under the umbrella of her protection you see.
Monitor – Michele probably wouldn’t be the best project monitor but she’d want a ton of status reports to ensure she could develop her own plans (even if she doesn’t pass them on to the team). Actually, Bachmann would do well to assign a project facilitator to correct her when she’s wrong, but it would have to be someone strong—maybe her husband since she feels men should rule in the marriage game.
Recognition – As Rolling Stone Magazine puts it, “…when she (Bachmann) turns her head toward the cameras and brandishes her pearls and her ageless, unblemished neckline and her perfect suburban orthodontics in an attempt to reassure the unbeliever of her non-threateningness, is one of the scariest sights in the entire American cultural tableau.” Whoa! Forget the recognition here for her team, it all needs to go to her. She reminds me of the evil Queen in Sleeping Beauty and her mirror is very, very close. Actually, she can only really see herself so she’d probably take all the credit for a successful project but maybe thank her dentist.
Interpersonal Skills – Bachmann’s relationship styles would depend on the diversity (or lack of diversity) on her team. She’d shun the homosexuals for sure—or ask her husband Marcus to step in (his part-time job is exorcising gays to change their sexual beliefs). She’s not one to take direction from anyone else, unless it’s—again—her hubby who she claims she is submissive to. One must wonder here how submissive can she really be with her outrageous personality? In any event, if “my way or the highway” is your style, you won’t gain much respect. However, if you study this engaging politician you might come up with some of her magic secrets to win over your team.
Project Reviews – Michele would be long gone here. The project is done and she has no time for reviews of any sort. She’s also not worried about what could go wrong in the next project because the force is with her, so to speak. With a wave of her hand, any future project problem would be instantly resolved. This part of Bachmann could be harmful as we all know how important it is for project leaders to review past projects.
Road to the Big Office
Do I think Michele will become our next President? No, even though I’m a Republican, I think much like Sarah Palin, Bachmann doesn’t stand a chance. She’s too outrageous, annoying to many, and I can only imagine the hate mail she must get on a daily basis. Let’s also not forget how migraines seem to bring this strong woman down—fast!
One thing that may help Bachmann on the road to the big office in Washington actually lies in her ideals and beliefs. Before you shoot the messenger here, she does seem to be everywhere and there are always crowds of supporters yelling and screaming to be near her. She has that rock star presence and she’s using it to the hilt.
Are you mesmerizing as a project leader? Do your teams sit and stare at you and hang on your every word because they are sure you are simply brilliant? If they do, some of Bachmann’s style could help you develop winning teams and awesome outcomes. On the other side of the coin, your project team would consist of all-white, waspy types who do believe Satan is responsible for homosexuality, and your team would live in fear of fluorescent light bulbs hanging above their cubicles. But, if you were like Bachmann, you’d take away those fears and give ‘em what they really need—the good old incandescent light bulb. After all, you do love your team and want them to be safe and mercury-free.
Does your project management style mimic that of Bachmann’s? Before you say “no way in hell” right away, think about how you lead, offer recognition (if you do), set goals and monitor projects. If you’re a little on the “it’s all me” side of life, you could be more Bachmann than you think.
So, what are your thoughts on this Bachmann dilemma. Would she be a good project leader or fail miserably? Oh, and if you’re a Democrat, I’d love to hear your thoughts too!
Taibbi, Matt – Rolling Stone – “Michele Bachmann’s Holy War” June 22 2011 retrieved at http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/michele-bachmanns-holy-war-20110622
Abramovitch, Seth – Gawker – “Michele Bachmann In Her Own Words: ‘Gays Are Part of Satan’ July 13 2011 retrieved at http://gawker.com/5820706/michele-bachmann-in-her-own-words-gays-are-part-of-satan
Coy, Peter – Bloomberg Businessweek – “Unpopularity Serves Michele Bachmann” August 11 2011 retrieved at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/unpopularity-serves-michele-bachmann-08112011.html