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eBook Review: Leadership and the project manager

Art Petty writes at Management Excellence. A few months ago, he published the ebook Leadership and The Project Manager: Developing the Skills that Fuel High Performance.

While there is a lot of talk about leadership and project management, Art takes an original approach. Instead of telling anecdotes to illustrate his point, he uses questions. For example, to illustrate what leadership maturity means, he lists the following questions:

  • Does the PM understand the true role of a leader?
  • Can the PM lead effectively without formal authority?
  • Is the PM capable of inspiring and motivating others and leading across silos?
  • Does the PM understand her role in creating a high performance culture?
  • Is she comfortable receiving and delivering constructive feedback?
  • Does she have high credibility as a professional and a person?
  • Does she understand the stages of team development and the changing leadership tasks at each stage?
  • Does she manage upwards and communicate with stakeholders effectively?

Art’s question-based approach creates a book where one stops and thinks at each chapter, and ponders one’s own answer […]

By |2009-07-01T15:16:00-04:002009-07-01|

PMBOK 4th edition: the human at the center

I recently had the chance to sit it on a very informative presentation about the changes to the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge 4th edition, aka the PMBOK. It’s important to stay up-to-date on profesionnal best practices, and there’s been a lot of discussion on the new PMBOK.

I’ll spare you the details of the new processes and the deleted processes in the system. I’ll spare you the details of the new flowcharts.

Here’s what stuck my about the changes in the new PMBOK: it put more emphasis on the human side of project management. Managing stakeholders is more important.

There’s even a whole section about interpersonal skills, Appendix G, which talks about leadership, team building, motivation, communication, and so on.

“Respect and trust, rather than fear and submission, are the key elements of effective leadership.” – PMBOK 4 th edition, page 448.

I believe it’s the first time the PMI takes a real stance about management styles and personal interaction.

It was not a minute too soon.

By |2009-06-24T11:50:00-04:002009-06-24|

Can leadership be learned?

Leadership is much more than a skill. While we may learn to tailor how we communicate with others to influence them to follow us, can we really learn a personality trait?

What is leadership?

Leadership can be seen in two ways:

  • As the “process of social
    influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others
    in the accomplishment of a common task”.
  • As “creating a way for
    people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”

While learning to influence others is a skill that can be learned, it feels a lot like manipulation to me. Leaders that use manipulation consciously to get people to do what they want seem dishonest to me.

I think true leaders hold a deep belief in their cause or goal, a belief that is infectious. They don’t need to convince or manipulate others to follow them in their projects. People want to follow them. That’s natural leadership.

While leadeship skills may be learned, natural leadership cannot

Natural leadership is a personality trait. It requires personal conviction, self-confidence and extroversion.  Think about the natural […]

By |2009-06-04T11:57:00-04:002009-06-04|

Project managers are not alone

A project should not be composed a leader on top and everybody else below. Actually, that's a very good way to fail. Your team is there for the project, and so are you. Why not work together?

You need to work together.

Be with your team. Spend time with them. Take the time to explain what's going on in the project.  Listen.

When problems arise (they always arise), your team's unique perspective may be the key to solving it. Budget problems? Maybe one of your developers knows a less-expensive tool that does the job just as well. Schedule problem? Your QA specialist may have a few tricks up her sleeve to speed up the testing phase.

Project managers are not superheroes. We can't expect to fix everything on our own. That's why there are project teams.

The project can't succeed without the team, but it can succeed despite the project manager.

By |2009-04-08T12:30:00-04:002009-04-08|

Suggested reading: the first 100 days

Neal argues that when being assigned on an existing project, it can be a challenge to get up to speed and build good relationships with your project team. I completely agree with the 3 Ls of communications management: Listen, Learn, Lead.

There’s a reason why Lead is last

You can’t lead effectively if you’re ignorant. Ignorant of your project, ignorant of your team. Once you’ve built a good understanding of the project and the people, then you can choose a leadership style that fits the situation.

By |2009-02-20T20:36:00-05:002009-02-20|
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