Are PM Leadership Skills A Real Problem?

From the Project Management 2.0 Blog
New technologies, concepts, and Web 2.0 tools are popping up everywhere. How can you use them to help your project team collaborate, communicate - or just give your project an extra boost? [Contact Dave]

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Situation: You want to keep up with the latest industry trends.

ESI released it's annual Top 10 Trends for Project Management a few minutes ago. You can see them listed out below.  Do you agree with their assessment?

“This year’s trends bring a murky problem into specific light,” said J. LeRoy Ward, Executive Vice President, ESI International. “Leadership skills are lacking within the project community, and until project managers learn how to properly lead teams and their projects, project execution will continue to be a problem.”

ESI’s top 10 trends for project management include:

1.      Organizations will continue to call for strong project leaders but will focus on investments in hard skills

2.      Agile implementation will be viewed in some organizations as a failure, but for the wrong reasons

3.      Project management is not just for project managers anymore

4.      Large projects pose unique challenges that are increasingly tough to overcome

5.      PMOs will focus on proving their worth and driving innovation

6.      The U.S. government will upgrade its PM certification in the face of rising criticism

7.      Improving vendor management practices will top the list of skills for project managers

8.      Continued poor project performance in many organizations will result in more PMOs being terminated

9.      Portfolio management will take on a greater role as funding continues to tighten and the number of projects grows

10.  Organizations will adopt Agile to accelerate time to market but what they ultimately achieve may be a different story

“Many of this year’s trends focus on the need to improve project skills, process and the overall management of our initiatives,” said Ward. “It is clear that it is no longer possible to hire project managers and expect results. We need our PMs to be experts, and take control of our projects to get maximum results.”

ESI’s top 10 trends in project management is put together annually by ESI senior executives and subject matter experts.

You can also check it out in video form (see below)

Posted on: January 03, 2013 11:20 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Thanks for this article Dave.

I found it very interesting to read the entire article as it adds to and clarifies these trends, highlighting some of the issues leading to these trends.

I don''t see anything here that is surprising. However, I don''t see anything is new either. Many of these "trends" were being discussed 15 or so years ago. The requirement of project managers to be leaders has been recognized by many of us for years.

Much of my experience in project management has been in the government and defense industry where large, complex projects are the norm, for instance military weapons systems and space systems. These projects involve large, multifaceted teams and many different vendors. We all have heard about the failures in these types of projects because they make headlines. But there are significantly more successes than failures. My point is that many of the issues listed have been dealt with in these environments in the past, mostly successfully. However over the last 15 years, many of the more recent PMs and project teams have not learned the skills and knowledge acquired by the PMs of the past. Things like Management By Walking Around, "going to see the problem," face to face communication skills (replaced by management by email) have often been lost. Processes and tools have replaced leadership and problem solving in many organizations. Over the last 15 or so years, emphasis has shifted away from training PMs in leadership and people skills in favor of potentially burdensome process and tools and achieving a certification.. Unfortunately, this trend not only applies to project management but can also be seen in business management.

I guess what I find most distressing about some of these trends is that we did a much better job of solving many of these issues in the past. It highlights the fact that we have slipped backwards as profession, have forgotten valuable skills and replaced them with sort of a rote application of processes and tools. Leadership, problem solving, and critical thinking have taken a back seat. I remember my first project management course, years ago. It focused on leadership, on communication, on team interaction and problem solving.

I have much more to say, but I think rather than include it all here, I will address them in a post in my blog.

Thanks again Dave.

“Leadership skills are lacking within the project community, and until project managers learn how to properly lead teams and their projects, project execution will continue to be a problem.” - Ouch!!! Sadly, though, I agree with this statement.

Although cost, schedule, and functionality will always be important project considerations, getting a project team to successfully execute a project and a user community to fully accept a project''s deliverables are the main challenges facing a Project Manager. Being late and over-budget are short-term issues, a delivered product that works and is liked by the end users will be remembered. Unfortunately, a delivered product that is incomplete and disliked by the end users will also be remembered even after all issues have been resolved.

This is the leadership challenge for a project manager. How to get conflicting and competing users to comprise, agree, and desire a solution and get the solution built to satisfy the desire.

Hi !

I really enjoyed reading these comments. I am new to project leading. I have an opportunity I think to try and get conflicting and competing users to comprise, agree and desire a solution for the good of the enterprise but no idea how to start other that being honest on what I think . Any ideas on where to start ?

I also watched the video and I am not sure what is meant on using stories to gain convergence? I am not sure I understand convergence either.

“Leadership skills are lacking within the project community, and until project managers learn how to properly lead teams and their projects, project execution will continue to be a problem.”

This is an unsupported assertion. It might be true, it might not be true. We have no way of knowing.

Project Management Courses
Thanks for the blog Dave, very interesting. I completely agree with point 3 "Project management is not just for project managers anymore". As our economy and business world is evolving every member of the team needs to know a certain aspect of project management in order to ensure successful completion of a project.

Totally agree with the last comment from @Project Management Courses.

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