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The 7 traits of conscious project leaders

Colin Ellis | April 21, 2016
Project management is often referred to as ‘the accidental profession’, yet there's nothing accidental about learning to lead, building teams and being technically good at what you do. This is what conscious project leaders do. They choose to be the difference.

“It is your job to generate the basic attitude of the group and give direction to the decisions that your people are going to make.” – Emotional Capitalists, Martyn Newman.

5. They know their stuff

They understand the value of the paperwork in relation to what they need to achieve. They can articulate the benefits. They're proficient at the planning techniques. They know the language (and know when to use it). They can do visual. They can do detail.

They can be agile and waterfall. They can facilitate, stand-up and sit down for meetings. They manage risks, deal with issues and understand the importance of reporting. They never use methods as a crutch or a stick.

6. They put stakeholders at the heart of everything

They understand for the project to be considered successful, then customer satisfaction is paramount. Satisfaction with the design, build, test and implementation of the products.

Satisfaction with the process or methods used to get there. Satisfaction with the way that they lead the team and keep the stakeholders informed. Satisfaction with the timeliness of information provided. Satisfaction with the progress against the constraints set for the project. They always ask, “what's the right thing to do by the customer?”

7. They make hard work fun

They are fully aware, through their experience, that projects are stressful and take all necessary steps to ensure that this stress isn’t borne unnecessarily. They look for ways to leverage the humour within the team by encouraging working environments that spark interest and create conversations.

They take their work seriously but not themselves and ensure that the team do likewise. They create events that remove hierarchies and that create stories, talked about for weeks afterwards.

“A WOW project is dynamic, stimulating, a major bond builder with co-workers...inspiring...where everyone else wants to be.” – The Project 50 (Reinventing Work), Tom Peters.

You never forget conscious project leaders. They’re so much more than seven traits, yet they will tell you that they're just doing their job. They take none of the credit for successes and all of the blame for failures.

In a world full of continual project failures, we need more conscious project leaders. Will you join us?


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