Always Have Back-up
Kevin is my Wing-man or Wing-cat who flies beside me.
During the day, Kevin comes and goes by my side when he likes. However, he always seems to know what I am doing or where I am in the house. Perhaps as the keeper of the kitty treats, he views me as a feline goddess, but I truly think he is interested in what is happening in his little world. He is often a more attentive roommate than my kids in observing who is in the house and who is at the door. Kevin and I will walk from room-to-room together doing daily chores or we will just sit in the living room and hang-out. He is my wing-cat.
There can be times on projects where we feel that if we were to be struck by a bus, no one would have a clue what we are working on or what our deadlines are. Although heavy responsibility is part of any management role, the feeling that you personally hold the glue to everything on the project is unrealistic and somewhat narcissistic. Unfortunately, we may have put these constraints on ourselves due to fear of no control and ego, or we may have inadvertently acquired the responsibility of a glue stick due to client/consultant/contractor preference in working with us. For whichever reasons turn us into goopy glue, someone needs to be your "second" or someone who is your "back-up". Even if this someone is only aware of your overall responsibilities, ie, who are your team players, any major issues you are tackling, or significant deadlines, etc. You can still be the "all seeing eye" - the overseer of the entire project and its objectives - but others need to be aware of your project actions and intentions as well.
Your project or office Wing-folk* (maybe you have more than one person) should know where you are physically and mentally. They know generally where you are and what your overall well-being looks like. It doesn't mean you need to share all your intimate personal details with them, but they are aware if there are life or work issues that could impact your performance and judgement. If you are managing large or small projects, your Wing-folk know what your role requires and what you do day-to-day - they just may be assigned different tasks. Your Wing-folk is also your support. There are days that can be overwhelming and your Wing-folk are there to take you for coffee or to the grocery store to get you some ice cream. When you start behaving distracted and unresponsive to office banter, it is your Wing-folk who will pull you aside and make sure everything is fine. Your Wing-folk may also approach other senior staff to see what they can do to help.
When I am getting ready to leave the house to run errands, Kevin will watch me put on my shoes and jacket. Then as I close the door behind me, he will go upstairs to one of his favorite sleeping spots. When I return, I will hear the jingle of his collar as he rushes to the door to give me a household update and to see if I have any bags he can play in. He is an excellent Wing-cat.
* Wing-folk may be similar to the work-spouse, work-sibling, or as HR often terms the relationship to be non-offensive "buddy".
Fiona Warren - 17 years experience with large high-profile projects and teams.