Project Management

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Recent Posts

Six Ways to Engage with the PM Community in 2019

Strategy for Leaders

New Year, New Goals!

Are Your Minding Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a key topic that many project managers are either struggling with or are challenged developing key partnerships.

Recently, I was interviewed by Elise Stevens from FixMyProjectChaos and here are the three tips I had to share:

Click here to read article.


Graphic:  Weebly

Posted on: April 14, 2017 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Leveraging Your Leadership

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)

Free Self-Study Leadership Development Program

Are you an accidental project manager, recently credentialed project or program manager or an entrepreneur looking to get back into the job market?  

Earlier this year, I read an incredible post about a free self-study leadership development program for aspiring leadersNormally, leadership programs are offered as on the job training or it's an individual career invesment to take a leadership program at a university, non-profit or online self study program. 

I'm very excited that with permission of Dan McCarthy, that I can publish this article, "Becoming a Great Leader" to share with our community.  Dan McCarthy is the author of the award winning leadership development blog “Great Leadership”, and an influential voice in social media.


Becoming a Great Leader

A self-study leadership development program for aspiring leaders

Designed by Dan McCarthy, author of Great Leadership


1. Buy a “learning journal”. You’ll use this to take notes throughout the program. Read this post for more on learning journals: "Learning Journals for Leadership Development". Cost: $15.00, can be purchased at any office supply store or online at Amazon.

2. Participation in this program is only for serious and committed students of leadership. If you are not willing to invest at least 40 hours of your time, then don’t bother starting.

3. Schedule time. In order for this program to work, you need to treat it like an appointment. Block out 2 hours per week for the next 20 weeks, or more until the program is completed.

4. Decide if you want to complete the program alone or with a partner. The advantage of taking it with a partner, or study group (no more than 4) is to share your insights, coach each other, and keep each other motivated. The disadvantage is it will take some coordination and cooperation, and the introverts may not prefer this method.

5. Create a folder on your computer, Nook, IPad, or use an old fashioned 3-ring binder to keep track of documents, books, feedback, reports, etc… This, and your journal are your course materials.

Module One: building a foundation

1. Write a goal statement.
Why are you interested in learning more about leadership? What’s your motivation? Think about it, write a draft, reflect, and refine. This should be your vision, your north star, something that will keep you motivated to complete the program. Write it in your journal.

2. Learn from the leadership “gurus”.
There are an overwhelming number of models and theories about leadership. While there is no single “bible” for leadership, you have to start somewhere. You’ll need some context before you can begin to identify and talk to role models, get feedback, practice, and set specific development goals. While I know leaders that read one leadership book a month, we’ll start with three:

- The Leadership Challenge, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (used, $10.00)

- On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis (used, $10.00)

- What Leaders Really Do, by John Kotter (used, $10.00)

As you read each book, jot down insights in your journal. You should end up with at least 2 pages of notes per book.

Module Two: Learn from role models.

Now that you have a foundation of what leadership is all about, it’s time to learn from those leaders that you admire and exemplify the leadership qualities you want to learn more about.

You will learn about these role model leaders in a number of ways:

1. The movies. Rent/download two movies from the following list: 20 Best Leadership Movies; Break Out the Popcorn.My personal favorite: Braveheart. Record insights in your journal. (2 movie rental/downloads, $10.00).

2. Books. Read two biographies of leaders you admire. Some recommendations (all under $20 used or new):

- It’s Your Ship, by Captain Michael Abrashoff;

- Quiet Strengths…., by Tony Dungy

- My Life in Leadership, by Francis Hesselbein

3. Real live leaders. Interview three leaders that you admire and feel you could learn from. It could be your old high school or college sports coach, a business leader, a family member, your pastor, or even someone you don’t know but has a reputation for being an outstanding leader. Don’t be shy…. reach out, ask for an hour of their time, ask questions, and take notes. Most people, even those who you think might be hard to contact, are usually flattered and willing to talk about themselves and leadership. That’s part of being a great leader, they usually are willing to give back and teach others. Who knows, one of these role models might end up being a mentor. Cost for three cups of coffee, $10.00.

In case you have not caught on (last reminder), yes, record your insights in your journal. At this point in the course you should have about 20 pages of notes.

Module Three: Capstone project #1.

You’ve learned all about leadership, now it’s time to get some practice. Find an opportunity to lead. It can be a project at work, a little league sports team, a volunteer assignment, planning the neighborhood barbecue, a church committee, anything that gives you the opportunity to set a direction and inspire others to action. If you are completely stumped and can’t think of one, read "10 “Off-the-Job” Leadership Development Opportunities"or purchase CCL’s 88 Assignments for Development in Place ($15.00).

Module Four: Feedback

Once you’ve had a chance to apply what you’ve learned, it’s time to get feedback. Read "10 Ways to Get More Candid Feedback" (and 5 ways if you really can’t handle the truth) and "18 Tips for Receiving Feedback".
One of the ways mentioned to get feedback is to take a formal leadership assessment. While many of these require assistance from a certified professional and would exceed our $100 budget, I’d recommend
the LPI Online 360 assessment. It’s based on the Leadership Challenge (which you have already read) and only cost $130.00. There’s even a free trial version, although I’ve not tried it.

Module Five: Reflection and coaching

Reflect on what you’ve learned about leadership and yourself. Read back over your journal. Either by yourself or with a learning partner (a partner would be the preferred way for this part of the program), answer the following questions:

1. Which aspects of leadership resonated with you the most?

2. If you could pick one thing that would make the greatest impact in your ability to lead, what would it be?

3. What have you learned about yourself?

4. What’s your motivation for wanting to be a leader? Has it changed since you started the program?

5. What obstacles are getting in your way? What can you do about them?

6. What are your next steps?

Module Six: Development planning

Read "How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan" and create your own plan. You should recognize the process, because you’ve already been following it in a general way. Now’s the time to get more specific – you’re not just learning about leadership, you’re putting a plan together to develop a specific aspects of leadership. Here’s a couple examplesto get you started.

Module Seven: Capstone project #2: Your leadership “rules”.

From studying great leaders, you know that every great leader has a set of guiding leadership principles, or “rules” that they live by. Now it’s time to create your own. In your journal, develop a set of personal leadership “dos and don’ts” that you are willing to commit to live by. These are yours are yours alone, and should incorporate your deeply help values and beliefs. This is the list in which you’ll strive to exemplify and role model. They are not situational, to be bent and modified based on circumstances. For inspiration, try reading the Declaration of Independence. It’s still an amazing document!

Post course work and graduation

Now that you’re hooked on leadership, you won’t want to stop learning. Become a lifelong student of leadership by subscribing to free blogs, newsletters, Twitter summaries, and podcasts. Pick at least six and subscribe via email:

1. Here are three sources of leadership blogs:

- AllTop Leadership

- HR Examiner’s Top 25 Leadership

- Top 50 Leadership blogs

2. Here are three leadership newsletters:

- SmartBrief on Leadership

- The Center for Creative Leadership’sLeading Effectively

- HBR’s monthly leadership newsletter

3. Graduation.

Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve graduated. Now you just need a course certificate and photo. You’ll need to create your own certificate, however, if you mail it to me with a postage paid return envelop, I’d be glad to sign it for you.

*Total cost of course materials: $100.00.
The value of learning to be a better leader: priceless.

 Terms of use and disclosure:

1. Individuals may freely print and use all materials - that’s why I created it.

2. If you are an internal practitioner or external consultant or coach, you may use and electronically distribute this program to your clients but may not charge for it. You may publish this post in it's entirety on your website or blog (but must inlude all links), or distribute via an email with instructions and a link to this post.

3. While you may add your own suggestions in your instructions, the content of the post cannot be modified without my permission and all links must stay intact.

4. You may print and distribute copies of this post, with embedded links. If you want to print and distribute copies any of the posts I’ve referenced and linked to, please email me ( for permission with an explanation on how you’d like to use it.

 Republished with permission of Dan McCarthy

Posted on: October 31, 2011 02:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mastering Soft Skills is Hard Work

Categories: CIO, Leadership, Soft Skills

Are you able to consistently deliver projects that meet or exceed stakeholders' expectations on time and within budget? Today's organizations expect project managers to have a strong set of soft skills which are to compliment their use of innovative methodologies and project tools.  Soft skills also know as interpersonal skills or people skills are behavioral competencies.  Soft skills include proficiencies such as communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, influencing skills and selling skills, to name a few. 

Chief Information Officers (CIO) are influencing organizational strategies and initiatives in business today.  Consolidation, cloud computing and network modernization are just a few hot topics. CIO’s are being consistently challenged with supporting growth while reducing cost and improving operational efficiency.  Virtual teams, initiatives, standards, tools; these are all emerging trends that focus on the need for information technology (IT) project managers to improve, enhance and develop better soft skills. Project managers are leaders and valuable assets to any organization.  Increasingly project managers in organizations across the globe manage the service delivery of innovative services to customers and stakeholders to achieve greater market share and return on investment.  

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a leader in promoting leadership as a competency for project managers in its standards and services.  Leadership and the use of soft skills are attributes at the top of the list for high performing project managers.  High performing project managers strive to focus the team on goals in order to achieve superior business results in the delivery of consistent repeatable best practices on projects within their organization. 

What soft skills are necessary to be a top notch project manager?  In an article written by Meredith Levinson of CIO magazine, she discusses her interview with Kumi Kondo managing director of Intellilink; a management and training company that specializes in technology implementations. “The more experienced project managers understand that if you don’t get the people side of project management, it does not matter how good your methodology or your tools are,” says Kondo. “If you’re not managing your users, sponsor or stakeholders you could deliver on budget, but you might not meets their needs; they’ll say their not satisfied.” Kondo analyzed the skills set of its own best project managers and those of its clients and came up with the following six attributes that are discussed below:

1. The gift of foresight.  - Great project managers anticipate, head off problems well before they jeopardize deadlines, budgets and user acceptance.  They always have the “big picture” in mind each step of the critical path.

2. They’re organized. - An organized project manager is one who stays focused on the big picture and prioritizes competing projects and other tasks. Prioritizing work for your team is a critical aspect of a project managers’ role.

3. They know how to lead. - Project managers have to interact and manage a variety of stakeholders including their project team and sponsors. Project manager have to influence and motivate resources in a matrix organization, negotiate and persuade stakeholders and sponsors to support their projects in the event a scope, timeline, or cost issue needs to be renegotiated or additional resources are required.

4. They’re good communicators. - Successful project managers use all tools available to them: email, meetings (face to face or virtual meetings), and performance reports to communicate their ideas, get decisions made and resolve problems. Project managers know their audience and deliver the right messages at the right time.

5.  They’re pragmatic. - Great project managers are results oriented and practical; they don’t over analyze.  They focus on getting work done with the resources available to them. 

6. They’re empathetic. - Project managers rely on their teams to be successful.  Project managers can’t influence individuals if they don’t know what motivates each team member and stakeholders. They are good listeners and can put solutions into action. Greate project managers who master good listening skills can focus on developing lasting relationships and partnerships with their customers.

Certainly, this in not an exhaustive list but through empirical data, Intellilink defined these as the top six attributes of successful project managers.  Personal growth and development is key to your success as a project manager in today's global economy.  Your next steps as a developing leader would be to put together a personal development plan to focus on daily improvement. I’ll discuss the detailed actions in my next post.


Posted on: October 28, 2011 01:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.

- Frank Lloyd Wright