Leadership is the heart and soul of project management

If you could add a chapter in the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK), what would it be?

The chapter I would add is “”Leadership.””

The PMBOK is the textbook that teaches us the tools we need to manage a project. But it is the leadership skills of the project manager that will steer

a project to victory.

As project managers, all our project initiatives start the same way: You are handed a vague mission and from that you must form a battle plan, assemble troops, and lead them bravely into battle. Against all odds you must be able to claim project success at the end of your quest.

Great leadership separates the regular infantry from the green berets, and it is the heart and soul of great project management. Here are a couple of examples of how the project management disciplines outlined in the PMBOK come to life with solid leadership.

Time management: Gene Roddenberry once said, “”Time is the fire in which we burn.”” In the good old project management triangle of time, cost and quality, time is always your scarcest and most valuable commodity. You can never get back lost time. If you have 15 people on your team, then your project probably has a daily running rate of about $10,000 a day. A day lost through bad planning and ineffective time management is a compounded loss. You have lost time and money. If you can be a leader who is focused on one single aspect of your project control, then manage the time of your team. Time management flows into every aspect of project management. Ensure your team has set milestones. For me a project mile is one week. On Monday you have a team pep rally, and reiterate your project goals. Then, you ask your team to commit to their goals for the week. Next week, follow up and measure if you reached your mile marker. Listen to your team’s problems and concerns because they will form your risks and issues.

Risk management: It’s another dimension of solid leadership. It’s having the vision to imagine what might go wrong and the conviction and energy to do something about it now.

As Arnold Glasgow said, “”One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”” If you are proactively managing a project, you are scanning the horizon for land mines, and removing them before you and your project team steps on them.

At the end of a project, everyone will remember the way you led with integrity and they will appreciate the way you made them feel important in helping the team achieve success.

Back in 1910, long before project management was a recognized profession, Theodore Roosevelt captured what I regard is the essence of what motivates us to lead projects:

“”The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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