The Six Deadly Sins of Project Management Leadership

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Sin 5: You leave yourself in the parking lot.

At home you’re fun loving, have a great sense of humor, may be even a bit of a jokester. Yet, as soon as you walk into the office you become the somber “leader” with a serious, aloof demeanor who rarely cracks a smile, simply because you read some overpriced business book that told you how to be. In other words, you’re a phony. And, guess what? Your team can see right through your plastic packaging. People don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be you.

Antidote: Don’t read business books. Read Mad magazine. Bring your sense of humor to the office. You’re you, warts and all. It doesn’t mean you can’t improve, but you can’t “act” your way to leadership. People like authenticity. If they want to see actors, they can go to the movies.

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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