Leadership is the skill set that propels project managers toward being great project leaders. It is the critical supplement for the hard and soft skills that form the foundation for project management. It is what allows entry and mid level project managers to advance to senior levels. Some aspects of leadership are particularly relevant in the project environment where work is performed by teams formed for a specific purpose and limited duration.
Even world-class project managers will not succeed unless they get their executives to act for project success. The trap of applying best-practice project management only to have the project fail because of executive inaction or counteraction can be avoided. According to the latest PMI Pulse of the Profession report, “actively engaged executives continue to be the top driver of whether projects met their original goals and business intent.” Increasing numbers of project managers are trying to deal with this reality. This is a how-to paper. It describes how project managers can get their executives to act, and it identifies executive actions most likely to contribute to project success. This paper explores why the evolving and expanding definition of project success and why the expanding complexity of projects have led to an environment in which the project manager is ever more dependent on the executive. It draws upon recent research about top-performing project managers, about why executives fail, and about why new products fail, to identify the basis for a strong mutual partnership between project managers and executives. A central theme is that project managers are empowered to extend their influence beyond the immediate project boundaries, not only to get their executives to act, but also to help implement the actions as well. A list of top project manager steps is included. This topic is now available as a book from Amazon.
Bad projects abound, and research by PMI and others has provided useful insight into the underlying causes of bad projects. This paper looks beyond why projects go bad into why bad projects are so hard to kill. It explains how sunk cost, groupthink, escalation of commitment, and conflicts of interest contribute to keeping death march projects needlessly alive. Each of these behaviors is defined and illustrated using project stories from history (the sinking of the Titanic and the Concord jetliner), project stories from the author's own personal experience climbing some of the world's tallest mountains (McKinley, Aconcagua, and Kilimanjaro), and project stories from business (Abilene Paradox and industry-funded soda studies). Some recently published research about the neural science underlying these behaviors is referenced. The impact of these behaviors is described and then linked to the undercutting of ethics, trust, leadership, and project success. A list of actions is provided that project managers can take to help avoid being victimized by bad projects.
Why Bad Projects Are So Hard To Kill (Spanish)
This paper, which has trended at the top in popuparity, has been translated into Spanish.
I have concluded that ethical behavior is required for project success; more than a nice-to-have, but absolutely required. My conclusion stems from decades of managing projects in organizations where the outcomes depended not just on me, but also on myriad other team members, sponsors, customers, and stakeholders. My conclusion stems from considerable study of the leading contributors to project success, and it stems from a lifelong interest in the subject of ethics; I am currently serving as the Chair of the Ethics Member Advisory Group for the Project Management Institute. My thinking is that a successful project requires leadership, which requires followers, which requires trust, which requires ethical behavior. Therefore, an absence of ethical behavior undermines project success management.
Bullying is increasing and can be as harmful in the workplace and on projects as it is in schools and society in general. Projects are subsets of workplaces and since project management is, for the most part, an activity that involves working very closely with others, the impact of a bully in a project is potentially lethal to project success. This paper helps participants identify bullies, understand their motivations and provides anti-bullying action plans for employers and project managers/leaders. This paper was authored on behalf of the PMI Ethics Member Advisory Group, a global team of experienced volunteers who are committed to facilitate learning and discussion about ethics and professional conduct in project management.
The journey to project management excellence continues beyond earning a PMP® to include practicing project leadership. However, even highly skilled project managers find success limited until they can establish a culture of quiet high performance leadership in a loud, “culture of personality” world. This is a how-to paper. It describes how project managers can take specific quiet leadership actions that will contribute to project success. This paper defines quiet project leadership, draws from the large body of PMI-published and related quiet project leadership research, draws from the fields of ethics, trust and professional conduct, and gives emphasis to high-performance teams. Compelling lessons in quiet project leadership from Shackleton’s historic Antarctic adventure are used to illustrate key points. A list of quiet project leader tips is included. A central theme is that project managers can reduce project risk and become successful project leaders by following the tips identified. This paper was authored on behalf of the PMI Ethics Member Advisory Group, a global team of experienced volunteers who are committed to facilitate learning and discussion about ethics and professional conduct in project management.
The journey to project management excellence continues beyond earning a PMP to include practicing project leadership. However, even highly skilled project managers find success difficult to achieve until they can sift through the bewildering amount of leadership information and identify actions essential for them. This is a how-to paper. It describes how project managers can take specific leadership actions that will contribute to project success. This paper defines project leadership; draws from the large body of PMI-sponsored and related project leadership research; draws from the fields of ethics, trust, and professional conduct; and gives emphasis to high performance teams. Compelling lessons in project leadership from the Titanic are used to illustrate key points. A list of five essential project leader actions is included. A central theme is that project managers can reduce project risk and become successful project leaders by taking the actions identified. This paper was authored on behalf of the PMI Ethics Member Advisory Group, a global team of experienced volunteers who are committed to facilitate learning and discussion about ethics and professional conduct in project management.
When are you a project manager? Simple question. It is a question being asked and answered by an increasingly large number of people. Indeed, project management was ranked in 2009 by U.S. News and World Report as the third-most valued skill by employers, behind only leadership/negotiation skills and business analysis. This paper will offer some insights into important aspects of being a project manager. It will explore project managers’ view of work, the attitudes of project managers when confronted with barriers and obstacles, and the relationship of project managers with their customers and stakeholders. A comparison will be made between accidental or interim project managers and career project managers. Project manager behavior toward relationships, toward decision-making, toward power, and toward their project, will be reviewed. A simplified checklist will be included that can be used as an aid in determining if you are a project manager.
Making ethical decisions when confronted with a dilemma is a key to success along the project leadership journey. Using a framework to guide those decisions can be crucial to advancing project leadership competence. This paper describes the strong connection between ethical decision-making and project leadership success, depicts the role that an ethical decision-making model can play, and presents the new five-step PMI Ethical Decision-Making Framework (EDMF) created by the Ethics Member Advisory Group (Ethics MAG) and released PMI-wide. A realistic ethical dilemma is explored using the EDMF. A summary is included of the benchmarking of other organizations indicating that PMI is at the front of the ethical decision-making trend. This paper is authored by the four members of the PMI Ethics MAG and the ethics expert who developed the EDMF.
The journey to project management excellence continues beyond earning a PMP to include practicing project leadership. However, even highly skilled PMPs find success limited until they can sift through the bewildering amount of leadership information and identify actions essential for them at this point in their careers. This is a how-to paper. It describes how PMP project managers can take specific leadership actions that will contribute to project success. This paper defines project leadership, draws from the large body of PMI-sponsored and related project leadership research, describes the leadership role in high performance teams, gives emphasis to sources of power for project leaders, and provides methods for project leaders to amplify their power. A list of specific project leader actions is included. A central theme is that PMP project managers can become successful project leaders by taking the actions identified.
Ethics plays an important role in project management. In this paper we will examine a couple of definitions of ethics and take a look at some ethics history and some project management codes of ethics. We will learn about the most common causes of ethical slips according to a global study and we will review several interesting project management ethical situations. This paper draws from the "Complete Guide to Ethics Management: An Ethics Toolkit for Managers" and from a very interesting paper titled "Black, White, and Shades of Gray - Ethics in Project Management."
As a business leader, you are challenged by working in an environment these days where your business success is strongly tied to the success of the projects within your business. You are challenged with the need to actively contribute to the success of the projects within your business. Ultimately, the question for you is how? How can you act for project success? This topic has resonated strongly with the thousands of project managers and business leaders who I have had the pleasure of addressing directly and with the even greater numbers of people who have reacted to articles I have written about this topic in business and project management publications. The good news for you as a business leader is that you can take proven actions for project success, and by doing so, raise your odds of business success. In this paper you will: understand why your business success is now more dependent on project success, learn what proven actions you can take for project success, recognize the barriers to your actions, and realize how to employ familiar management approaches to overcome the barriers.
(Click on title link to display or download document)