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PMI+Symposium+Paper+ +Lakshika

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Published by Laks Hett

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Published by: Laks Hett on Jun 19, 2012
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Project Managers: Strong Candidates for Leadership?
Lakshika Hettiarachchi, earth9 Pte LtdIOI Plaza, #08-04210 Middle Road, Singapore 188994lakshika@earth9.com
This paper looks at the differences between Management and Leadership and discussesseveral key determinants of project management success. It also highlights the qualitiesof good leaders and shows how the unique on-the-job opportunities presented to ProjectManagers enable them to progressively develop their leadership competencies. Finally, aself-assessment survey based on a well-known leadership competency model is providedfor you to rate your leadership strengths.Keywords: project management competencies, leadership qualities
A manager is someone who holds responsibility for ensuring process and compliance and isviewed as someone who needs to be obeyed. A leader however, is usually considered to besomeone that people follow by virtue of choice. Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as having said
Leaders lead, bosses
drive”. Of course, managers
may be leaders in some instances and vice-versa. While both roles are critical to the success of an organization there are commonly drawndistinctions between the two.
Leaders focus on: Managers Focus on:
Vision ObjectivesSelling what and why Telling how and whenPeople Organization and structureEnabling EnforcingFlexibility AdministrationInnovation ConsistencyOpportunity from risk Risk avoidance
Table 1: Focus of Leaders and Managers
In its simplest form, management is the process of defining and measuring success
somethingthat that the Project Manager needs to do in order to monitor and control the project performanceduring the various stages of the project life cycle.
Project Management: Critical Success Factors
With the rapid progress in the development in the Project Management domain especially overthe last decade, formal competency models have been built to capture the various skill setsrequired of the professional Project Manager - with those developed by the Project Management
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Institute (PMI) being among the most widely accepted. It is assumed that readers will be familiarwith the different Knowledge Areas and processes that form the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), as well as the general management skills a Project Manager will need topossess.Additional lessons can be learned however, by looking at real-life project case studies toexamine the types of issues that can present obstacles to the success of a project. Identifiedbelow are some specific areas that Project Managers need to pay close attention to.
Identifying the Stakeholders
Various factors will influence the choice of the internal or external project team members. It iscritical that the Project Manager identifies
key project stakeholders, especially those whowill be involved at the key decision-making stages. The roles and responsibilities of theseparties need to be formally agreed upon in the Project Initiation phase. Subsequently, theseindividuals need to be kept updated on progress of the project. A recommended approach is forthe Project Manager to create a customized Project Communications Plan with the roles andresponsibilities pre-filled. They can then follow up with obtaining or confirming the names of the relevant persons at the Project Kick off meeting.
Identifying Assumptions And Risks
It is unlikely that all the assumptions and risks can be identified at the contractual agreementphase. Thus it is important that the Project Manager documents key project assumptions andevaluates potential risks early in the project planning phase.One of my current projects had to be put on hold for 1 month
, because my client’s Project
Manager formally signed off the key documents without ensuring the required internalapprovals. The Project Manager had been formally assigned as the authority for sign-off, withresponsibility for coordinating internal approvals in the organization. Hence, production work had commenced upon the sign-off. Unfortunately this Project Manager suddenly left theorganization at very short notice, leaving a new person to take over. The new Project Managerdiscovered that several key stakeholders had been omitted in the review process. Work on theproject had to been halted while the reviews were performed by all the relevant parties.Project Managers have to use their judgment and discretion in deciding how to deal with suchsituations, and with experience, will learn to take such unexpected developments in stride.A risk to the project could also be the lack of experience of the team members in performingtheir assigned role on the project. Issues such as the competencies of the project team andpossibility of key members or stakeholders leaving the organization in the midst of the projectare not often included under the list of identified risks. In a client-vendor or partnershipsituation, it is critical to the project success that both sides assign competent Project Managersto own and manage the project execution.
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Another potential risk the Project Manager needs to examine is the political environment(internal or external) of the project. An example of such an environmental risk being actualizedtook place on a project that my company was commissioned to implement for a multi-nationalorganization. Just as we commenced the project with their regional office, the ownership of theproject was taken over by a more senior staff member from our
client’s head
-quarters inEurope. There were clearly political issues at play which were totally outside of our control.Our original client, the regional stakeholder, explained to us that there was nothing that couldbe done about the situation as the budget approval for the project came from the head-quarters.From an original estimate of 6 months, we are now more than a year into the project execution.The original vision of the project is vastly changed, with the project timeline and scope of deliverables greatly impacted. While such events are out of a control of a Project Manager, theycan certainly be identified as a project risk if the political environment is known in advance.There are accepted methodologies and guidelines for carrying out formal risk assessment andcontrol. The time that is spent on this undertaking needs to be in proportion to the value orimpact of the project.
Ensuring Accountability comes with Authority
A Project Manager might work with a team of people, each of whom who might hold varyingdegrees of seniority in an organization. However, in many organizations, it is usually theProject Manager who carries overall accountability for the project results. Hence is importantthat the Project Manager is adequately empowered for the job. For example, if a ProjectManager is not provided with the pre-requisite authority over the various resources needed tocarry out the project, the matter has to be taken up with senior management.
Knowing your Team
A good Project Manager will seek to know what drives and motivates each individual teammember. Sometimes, a certain amount of flexibility works better than a rigid application of therules or processes - and helps to circumvent situations where team members might feel they arebeing unfairly treated or assessed.When working with a team for the first time, a Project Manager can evaluate the use of toolslike the Myers-Briggs personality test to obtain insights into how various team members mightreact under different situations.
A recent article in the CIO magazine reported that team members who are ‘techies’ are
leastlikely to respond to an authoritative style of management
especially if the manager issomeone they view as not possessing the skill-set to fully understand the work that they do.
Watching the Tangible and Intangible Success Metrics
As every Project Manager knows, the constraints of time, cost, scope and quality need to beclosely watched. Each organization will have different systems and processes in place tomanage specific aspects of the project
including areas like Cost, Procurement etc. The Project

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