The Six Deadly Sins of Project Management Leadership

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Sin 1: You think like an employee, not a CEO

The head of one of the world’s largest engineering and procurement companies lamented to Ward recently that many of his project managers don’t look holistically at their responsibilities. For example, if there’s an external stakeholder group that’s causing problems with a construction project, the PM thinks the public relations office should handle it. So wrong, says the company’s CEO. In his view, the PM is the CEO of the project. The buck stops on the PM’s desk and no one else’s.

Antidote: Think of your project as your own business with a profit and loss statement. This perspective will cause you to think like an owner, not an employee. When you think like an owner, everything related to the project is your responsibility. You’ll make different ‒ and better ‒ decisions.

Gone are the days of top-down structures. In today’s “flatter” and more cross-functional world, leadership is needed everywhere. Organizations require that everyone, including their project managers, take up the baton. For too long, project managers were viewed by others, and themselves, more as mechanics assigned to “fix” a problem, rather than a critical leadership resource responsible for implementing the organization’s strategy.

The successful twenty-first century project manager (PM) must exhibit a wide range of leadership skills to guide cross-functional teams in the pursuit of delivering value and excellence through projects, programs, and other major initiatives. Beware of the following six sins of project management leadership, identified by J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, executive vice president, ESI International, as any one of them will undermine your ability to function at the highest levels of performance.

 

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