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Project leadership

The leader must be ready, not only to accept a higher degree of responsibility, but a severer standard of self-discipline than those he leads. If you hold a position of authority, whether you are the Managing Director or the charge hand, if you are really ready to do your job and lead, you must impose discipline on yourself first. Then forget the easy way of trying to enforce it on others – by just giving orders and expecting them to be obeyed. You will give orders and you will see they are obeyed, but you will build up the leadership of your team only on the discipline of understanding. That’s the crux of the matter. Discipline is something that is enforced, either by fear or by understanding.

                                                                                                                Field-Marshal The Viscount Slim 

Fear tends to make happen precisely that which one fears and so does anticipatory anxiety leading to a vicious circle. It therefore seems common sense to concentrate on leadership by ‘understanding’ as opposed to leadership by fear.

Cognition of Meaning

I hope you will agree that we have moved on from, if only we knew what we know, to, turning what we know in to what we can accomplish, as big data is now upon us. However big data is messy, unstructured and extensive while many engineers are used to working with clean, structured and in some cases laboratory based data. This requires new learning about what is possible to produce meaningful answers rapidly.

Soft skills learning offers project leadership competencies that prepare professionals for attitudinal change to embrace the new world of cognitive business and computing. It’s making aware, ones cognition of meaning, the personal meaning of a concrete situation where one becomes aware of a possibility against the background of reality or multiple realities such as we find in leading project teams.

One problem new project managers experience today is that it takes time to establish a sense of character and competency. Character and competency are often demonstrated when they are tested, such as when a tough call has to be made or when difficult problems have to be solved. More experienced project managers have the advantage of reputation and an established track record of success. Although endorsements from credible sponsors can help a young project manager create a favorable first impression, ultimately he or she will have to demonstrate character and competence during the course of dealings with others in order to gain their trust. This is some of what this program addresses.

Project management is mainly people management not planning systems or control techniques. For many years project managers have shown us that managing people is more important than managing technical control systems so we provide offerings that are about forming and leading project teams of borrowed resources from across your business, leading people and managing process, managing change, particularly change in management style for project leaders.

We have made some assumptions based on our experience that many resources have been mismanaged on previous projects, so for new Project leaders we help to develop a management style that does not perpetuate the bad management experienced in the past and for experienced project leaders it provides a framework, through which they can reinterpret their own experiences and then perhaps, change some of their habits.

So, the reality is that people are responsible for project success. Project managers may know the process that utilises a well oiled machine, but like any machine the obsession remains in what it does not how it does it. The difference between projects succeeding and failing is not in ‘what’ the process does, but how it is done.

‘How’ in this case is not the means by which it is done, as that brings us back to the machine model again, but the manner in which a project is run. Few PMs get the chance to experience the manner in which projects are understood and applied, that suggests a way of being, a way of thinking and a disposition towards the role and the environment – something human, therefore never normally asked of a machine.

Effectively forming and leading a multi disciplined team largely of borrowed resources requires influence skills and conflict management know-how and has very little to do with project management process. Successfully managing difficult stakeholder relationships calls for receptivity to change. Now, factor in today’s virtual team issues and managing multidisciplinary, cross functional/cultural teams takes on a new level of complexity.

Project Leadership and Team Development helps leaders of project teams experience the manner in which best practice behaviours apply to the phenomenon of bringing people together from different divisions/functions that do not directly report to them. They experience the attitudinal, interpersonal, team and organisational interplay between the dynamics and reasons for project leadership and team development participatively planned together.

The experience helps people understand and learn the attitudinal and behavioral thought patterns necessary to form and lead cross functional teams, a skill that many companies have struggled with in order to break down silos and work more cooperatively across their organisation, while identifying and managing stakeholder interests more effectively.

The manner in which project leadership and team development is understood and applied can help reduce project failure, through the natural tendency towards “disorder” that tends to exist, particularly in projects that lack project management (Graham, 1989, p. 25)[i].

Six elements attempt to explain these natural tendencies of project failure and have been identified as:

  1. Sufficient assets are not allocated and there is not enough time.
  2. The schedule, if there is one, starts to slip one day at a time.
  3. The project manager suddenly realizes the slip and seeks a culprit.
  4. People from various departments start to accuse people from other departments of delaying the project. More time is wasted in finger pointing.
  5. To make up time the project manager decides to ‘crash’ the project by applying more assets to all activities that are currently being performed.
  6. Everyone scrambles to crash their job and people are infuriated to find that they are either, further behind or finished and their part is not yet needed. Interest wanes as people chafe under the new delays. The project is over budget due to all the crashing and the whole thing is either on time but shoddy, well done but late, both shoddy and late or abandoned.

 Learning Objectives

After completing the simulation experience participants will be able to:

  • Form and lead a multi disciplined project team so that it meets its potential for productivity and effectiveness.
  • Facilitate an effective project work environment through the PMI 5 process groups.
  • Apply principles of change management to gain team member support for the project.
  • Influence the project team to work on and support the project.
  • Use conflict management techniques to build the project team.
  • Look beyond the critical path and understand project time-management.
  • Experience leadership styles and how they must change throughout the various phases of a temporary team’s development.
  • Help the team reach optimal performance in a very short time frame through ‘Power’ and ‘Political’ astuteness.

The program also focuses on Stakeholder Management, dealing specifically with:

  • Building organisational support for the project.
  • Identifying and mapping key Stakeholders.
  • Developing plans to managing stakeholders throughout the project life cycle.

This is not easily experienced or understood unless you can practice working in the role, ideally in a safe environment in which to experiment and make certain decisions, before experiencing their consequences. So at the core of each workshop is an interactive computer based simulation. Project Leadership & Team Development enables participants to receive hands on experience in forming a team of borrowed resources, managing a project from inception to completion and dealing with change. As Project Leader you are responsible for bringing your team together ensuring that all are focused on the project goal. At the same time you must satisfy the needs of your boss, your internal and external clients and other project stakeholders, while ensuring that the project comes in “on time and on budget”.  The outcome is a compelling and memorable experience that is immediately applicable in the workplace.

Key Topics Addressed

Project Leadership & Team Development’s problem-centered learning approach is designed to address project management concepts through the Five Phases of Project Management.

This workshop addresses several core learning and behavioral areas:

  • Core Leadership Techniques;
  • Managing the different stages of team and project development;
  • Stakeholder identification and management;
  • Understanding and managing diverse personalities;
  • Virtual teams Vs cross functional teams?
  • Identify factors that are critical to the success of virtual and global teams.
  • Communicate frequently with virtual/global team members to maintain their commitment to the project.
  • Manage common problems that occur in virtual/global teams.
  • Describe the differences between managing virtual/global teams and managing co-located teams.
  • Selecting the virtual team, getting the team started, leading the team & success factors.
  • Risk Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Influence from a position of responsibility BUT not authority
  • Building Trust and credibility.













[i] Graham, Robert. Project Management as if People Mattered, USA, Primavera Press, 1989

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