Project Management

Leveraging Your Leadership

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We’re now in the lazy days of summer and I’ve spent the last six months immersed in leadership learning.  I’ve attended virtual leadership conferences/webinars/workshops (Leadercast, Milken Institute 2013, John Maxwell), partnered in my community to pilot a mentor program for STEM students, connected with my network via a Twitter chat called #PMChat and spent time reading, writing and reflecting during my weekends.  It's a daily choice to invest in my leadership to support my goal to always pay it forward to advance the profession one project manager at a time and practice collaborative leadership.

Why is this important for project, program and portfolio managers who are leading projects in their organizations to take time out for these types of immersion activities?   Seriously, there is so much to learn about success and failure and everything in between.  If you want to go from a good to great leader you must invest in your leadership skills daily; it’s pretty simple.  How do you do this?  Set aside time to  read, watch movies, go to the theatre, unplug and go for a hike, take a yoga class, connect in your community locally, regionally, globally, blog,or tweet. 

Earlier this year, I bought a few new books recently released for summer reading, left a book/took a book from the neighborhood book library ( and was sent a few leadership books for review.   Let me share a few tips from my reviews of my favorite books.

“Leadership and the Art of Struggle” – Steven Snyder

Often I get requests to review leadership books and I was honored to be provided an advance copy of Steven Snyder’s’ book for review.  This book is very much like True North written by Bill George but better.  First of all, Bill George, author of True North, wrote a compelling foreword and credits Steven Snyder for taking the same themes and diving deeper to provide each reader insight into the struggle lens.  The book is broken out into three parts: Part 1: Become Grounded, Part II: Exploring New Pathways and Part III: Deepening Adaptive Energy.  Snyder’s first story is about Steve Jobs; he shares that with any leader we’re not perfect so we struggle through failure and success.  Snyder states that like Steve, all leaders can go through a “developmental metamorphosis… all we need to do is choose it.”

Reading through the book, soaking up each chapter of personal stories, strategies, techniques and exercises so much resonated with my personal struggles.  Each story was a journey of leadership and validated the introspection necessary to become a better, more grounded leader.  As a mentor; it's a book I'd recommend to a mentee as well as I highly recommend this book to any leader looking to continue their personal growth as a leader since it will help you in two ways:

1: Continue on the path to become a better “YOU” through organic introspection and renewal. 2:  Allow you to look back to lead forward so you can to become a more fulfilled leader from the inside out.

In addtion, the special bonus of this book is to take this learning and apply it; Snyder Leadership Group offers tools on its website and provides a special offer for readers who purchase this book. 

"The Project Manager Who Smiled " - Peter Taylor

Earlier this year, Peter Taylor reached out to me to consider submitting a fun story for his book.  Several months later; Peter self-published this book and released it in June 2013.  Peter’s book is available on and it’s packed with fun experiences, jokes and “PM Celebrity Gossip” contributions from myself and a few of my PM collegues.  It's a great gift, coffee table book and a fun read for your own library.

"Strategies for Project Sponsorship" – James, Rosenhead, Taylor

Project Sponsors are important to ensure more successful projects; just read any article on project management failure, governance and leadership.  This book is a great guidebook for project managers and sponsors;  our project management community has been anxiously waiting for this sponsor publication just released in June 2013. Every Project Management Office, consulting project manager and organization should order a copy of this book for their sponsors.  The authors of this book share an afterword to extend the message through a “Campaign for Real Project Sponsors”.  Visit the website; buy a book and contribute to help advance the profession through the education of the management team and C-Suite executives in organizations.

Every few weeks I get asked by a project manager for advice on how to get a job or  how to navigate their career or how to get that next promotion.  Although there is so much I could offer; I think I’ll just suggest to unplug and go take a hike (to reflect), meditate or go read a book.  Invest in your leadership, make the commitment, shift your mindset, enjoy the journey and oh, keep smiling...

Posted on: July 25, 2013 07:23 PM | Permalink

Comments (28)

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Naomi, great article. I could not agree more with your advice, "If you want to go from a good to great leader you must invest in your leadership skills daily; it’s pretty simple." Thanks..!

Great point Mark, a lot of people don't feel like spending the time and becoming a great leader is that important, because the focus is always to get the job done.

If more leaders were focused on being great, instead of just good, it would do wonders for the industry.

Great article Naomi..

Bill Dow, PMP

Personally while I am a great reader of business-related books and have designed and run team and leadership workshops and programmes, I am a bit reluctant when it comes to "How to..." books on leadership. After all, if you are a true leader, why aren't you out there leading, instead of writing about it? And leadership is so environment-dependent - what works in one is rarely transferable - what makes a great leader is that they have the instinct to apply the right approaches, not that they have a fixed tool kit they can just gift through some writing.

Personally to gain insights into leadership I'd rather read books about the great changes, whether these are in business or some other aspect of life. This gives a true flavour of how leadership emerges and is required in many ways, and how the great leaders were forged by their situation.

I just updated my booklist to be purchased after reading the reviews. Thanks for sharing Naomi!

Hi Naomi!

Great information and thanks for sharing about this book - Leadership and The Art of Struggle, it is defintely on my reading list.

Sometimes books are timeless and if you can pick up a good book and apply one or more lessons it's worth the investment.

Reading is something we seem to not have enough time for but as leaders we need to build it into our personal growth and development.

Thanks Abdullah and Judy for your comments.

Just Like Abdullah, I have just updated my book list and given myself no less than 2months to digest 'Leadership and the Art of Stuggle' by Steven Snyder.
It certainly is a struggle leading on certain projects and any material that can add value will definitely be appreciated. Thank You Naomi for the information

So kind to mention two of my books .. thank you

Nice share for people to directly get an insight on giod books to read. Thanks Niomi for the information.

Rightly said @Abdullah

Two things we must focus as project manager. One what outcome we want and two whats the great pic of this project and linkages with Portfolio. If focus is to gain customer satisfaction and meet all the goals in scope then things will go different way and if focus is on some other outcome the flow of activities will be in that direction. The project manager is the key and he is decision maker and Captain of the Ship... Ultimately everything rises and falls on leadership.

Naomi: Great piece, on the importance of reading widely to improve personal leadership skills.
As a graduate of PMI's Leadership Institute Master Class (LIMC) and keen follower of Leadership myself, I have read a lot on the topic.
Another great book we studied as part of our LIMC was the leadership fable "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni.Have you read it?
Do keep contributing to enrich our community here!

I'll add these to my reading list. Thx!

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Not something not few things everything is dependent on the project Manager being the leader. The law of 5 says if you continuously strike a tree for five times only everyday no matter how big is that tree it will fall down. Consistency is the best friend of project manager to develop his leadership skills. The most famous and best book to develop leadership traits is John Maxwell book 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership. These laws if practically applied on any project will ensure success and willing contribution from the project team and will also develop the leadership Lid. Leaders are develop over a period of time not in one day and it has to be intentional affair. If any one is interested then he can contact me and i can provide him good advise and free training on five levels of leadership.

Thanks for penning this down. It is true. Leadership is the key for any organization.

Very well written Naomi ! For sure, reading of books helps big way to sharpen insight, however, I personally feel nothing substitutes inborn traits of human when it comes to decision making as its highly environment specific where human intuition plays role of savior or destroyer.

No Leadership skills = No Acceptance = No Growth.. Simple..

Very nice article, thanks Naomi

Thanks a lot for your help.

Thank's for this article. It 's provide interesting books in order to improve our leadership skill.

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Very funny, Scotty. Now beam down my clothes.