Project Management

How Do I Know If I’m a Good Leader?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I recently received an email from a new project manager whose question was basically, “How do I know if I’m a good leader?”

They explained that they had been sent on a leadership training course and had been advised to think about the behaviors and characteristics of people they considered to be good leaders (great advice, by the way)—but they weren’t sure whether they were doing a good job. The project they were working on was going reasonably well, and the team seemed to be working together. But this new PM was looking for some more obvious validation that their leadership actions were having the right impact.

I suspect this is a common problem that many new PMs experience. When it comes to hard project management skills—scheduling, estimating, risk identification, etc. —there is usually some fairly immediate and obvious feedback about the job you are doing. Either work takes as long as you anticipated, or it doesn’t. Risks are managed effectively, or they aren’t.

But leadership isn’t anywhere near as straightforward; the effect you have is far more subtle. It takes time to show results, and you never have any solid baseline to compare yourself with—you don’t know how the team would have reacted if you had done nothing, or done something different.

So how do you determine whether your …

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