Project Management

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Topics: Leadership, Quality, Talent Management
With leadership being a vital part of project management, how does an organization ensure or improve the leadership skills of project managers?
I recently took over the construction and project management group at my company. I want to develop strong leaders, but currently do not have a process in place. I want to know how others ensure new project managers have good leadership skills or train project managers on leadership.
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There are a lot of ways you can develop leadership skills in your organization, depending on the resources you have on hand. I took a several week course developed by my employer which leverages many sources you can find at the library or on-line. Part of it is the difference between leaders and managers. Another big piece is understanding your own styles using methods like DISC and right/left brain dominance. Of course another critical part is relating to others, such as through emotional intelligence.

Something like that is a big investment so you’re likely to reserve it for a smaller number of employees. Although any of those subjects, assessments, etc. are readily available and often for free, developing a learning plan however organizes the information in a logical way. If you don’t have the capability or capacity in-house, there are a variety of courses, many offered by universities such as the Harvard Business School, either in person or online. You might also hire a consultant with expertise in developing the training, or who can host training sessions. Any of that will obviously cost money in some way.

Even if you don’t have the time and money for an organized training program, you can find videos and readings on-line like the book What Got You Here Wont Get you There, also available on YouTube. Those can work like PMI webinars where you can offer people bite-sized chunks of education. Google is your friend in finding them, but make sure you don’t just inflict something on others without watching/reading it first yourself.

In addition to formal training, you can and should develop it through growth opportunities. Those could be a permanent job function with more responsibility or temporary assignments either leading others or assisting leaders. Mentoring is critical there however. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect and without guidance people can easily develop the “wrong” skills.
This leadership article and programs may be interesting for you:
The key point, mostly forgotten, is like Ortega y Gaset stated: "I am me and my circumstance". Organizations are open and adaptable systems where things like leadership are located at the Style component inside the enterprise architecture (if you take the 7S Model for example). So, it is not a matter to push people. Is a matter to create the enterprise architecture which helps people to take leadership and ownership in a "natural" way.
Training and practicing.
Sergio made a valid point.
Danny -

With any type of soft skill development, I support a 10/20/70 model of 10% formal training, 20% relationship-based learning (e.g. having a seasoned mentor paired up with a budding leader) and 70% experiential learning in leadership roles.


Veronica has a good link.
There might be a slight difference in project and general leadership, but both will initially focus on developing the individual and then their interpersonal capabilities.

Leadership classes at IBM I was lucky to attend included presentation skills, negotiation, team leadership, facilitation. Outside IBM I also attended classes about self-confidence, self-control, meditation etc..

Since some time I give leadership classes myself.

Leadership can be developed and depends on the context and culture. Hiring people who have shown leadership elsewhere might not ensure they show it in your place with your culture and ethics (same with external leaders).
Leadership development normally involves the HR department, as they are in charge of people development/training and career paths.

Toastmasters is a great way to build and hone leadership skills.
A big part of leadership skill enhancement is providing or having an opportunity to lead. Like most skills one needs practice to improve. Yes, formal training and aptitude is important as is observation but ultimately you have to "just do it".

Two words come to mind - trust and respect. Without these there is no opportunity to be lead or to lead.

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