You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever – Steve Jobs
In today’s world, organizations are looking for pragmatic project leaders, who can steer projects to success by applying the technical aspects of project management combined with a practical leadership style.
What I mean with the technical aspects of project management is how the Project Management Institute (PMMI) has defined it in the “Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK).” For more information go to http://www.pmi.org/PMBOK-Guide-and-Standards.aspx
Pragmatic Project Leadership is going beyond PMBOK. It is about the leadership style and characteristics of the project leader. It is about the practical, no-nonsense approach where aspects like focus on making things happen, people management, building trust, learning and growth, play a critical role on project performance. They make or break the project. It is a combination of delivering projects by applying standard methods and tools, with special attention to the personal interest of people assigned to the project. That can for example be, job satisfaction, career development, personal growth, coaching, mentoring, team development, organizational change, culture change and transformation. The thought behind this is that when you take good care of your project staff, it has a positive impact on the project outcome as well as long term business benefits.
What are key characteristics of a pragmatic project leader?
- Have a broad interest and understanding of business, technology and organizational change management
- Are able to understand, communicate and translate the vision set by the business leader into a well defined and transparent path to attain it
- Act with confidence, optimism and determination
- Listen carefully and with empathy to their people, understand their needs, concerns and professional goals
- Bring people together to work as a team to manifest the end-state
- Is comfortable in dealing with ambiguity, taking calculated risk and managing conflict, disruption and deflection
- Is realistic, fact driven and has eye for detail
- Selects the right people for the project to get the job done
- Build trust in relationships and delegates responsibilities to people they are aligned with
- Is straight-forward, sharp aware, decisive, sound in judgement, intuitive, creative and far-sighted
- Prefers to operate at macro level using a helicopter view, but if necessary can manage at detailed level
- Coaches top talent and help them grow in their careers
- Is a big picture thinker, connect the dots all the time and is able to tune by taking immediate corrective practical actions
- Is able to align business leaders on the execution of the vision
- They have a good sense of the power structures of the organization, are very capable of influencing and using it in favour of the project and future state of the organization
This is the first publication of 4 in total and speaks about the characteristics of the pragmatic project leader. Subsequent version will be about the Think.Change.AchieveTM process that PM Consult is using to advise and coach business leaders when they are engaged in IT business transformation projects.
Bas de Baat
Program Manager Enterprise Applications, PMP©