The Project Leadership Skills Needed to Help You Succeed

According to the Major Projects Authority Annual Report 2015, Modern enterprises are currently faced with unprecedented levels of change which provides a constant threat to their success and, in many cases, survival.

Greater ‘maturity’ in project and programme management is positively correlated to success in delivering the organization’s strategy and contributes to the speed of implementation and resilience to setbacks. Level 3 (Established) programme, project and PMO functions support project delivery on schedule and to budget 64% more often than their Level 1 (Immature) PMO competitors. Statistics above pulled from PWC’s 2014 Global Portfolio and Programme Management Survey.

project leadership
Image rights belong to Cranfield University.

Moving from Level 1 to Level 3 is underpinned by the widespread and consistent application of best practice methodology and documentation, together with appropriate project and programme management training. There is often a misalignment of ‘Run the Business’ and ‘Change the Business’.  According to PWC’s 2014 Global Portfolio and Programme Management Survey, fit-for-purpose governance strongly influences project leadership and programme success.

To move from Level 3 to Level 4 and beyond is facilitated by ‘soft skills’ development. Project leadership is made up of: e.g. stakeholder management skills, communication skills and the ability to deal with socio-political complexity (described as ‘proper hard’ by Dr. Harvey Maylor, Dr. Neil Turner and Dr. Murray-Webster in their paper ‘How Hard Can It Be?’).

Many of the project leaders and teams I have come across (in my 30-year career in the change arena) have advanced in their careers through a technical route. Their technical excellence has been honed and developed and now they find themselves in a managerial role, with a skills gap in the so-called soft skills, or people skills.

Traditionally, people skills training has been addressed in the classroom, using theory and case studies. Now, for the first time, there’s a type of training which brings this to life, in a project context, using high-order artificial intelligence, in a simulation.

Using a computer-based simulation, played in teams, under time pressure, the Project Leadership Workshop recreates the many aspects of a complex, politically sensitive and business critical project.

Teams need to juggle all these things simultaneously to get a good outcome:

  • Timeline and Critical Path
  • Resources
  • Finances
  • Stakeholders
  • Risks
  • Business Outcomes

Through no other method have I found such a realistic experience. Concepts like risk analysis and management move from being processes and documentation to becoming a state of mind.

These are the skill areas that the Project Leadership Workshop can help you develop:

  • Assimilating and analysing information quickly
  • Effective communication and teamwork
  • Organising information and tracking actions efficiently
  • Quality decision making under pressure, dealing with ambiguity
  • Effective risk analysis and management
  • Effective stakeholder analysis and management
  • Effective issue management and resolution

Only by freezing the simulation, taking time out and receiving comprehensive feedback from your facilitator, can you gain insight into what you are good at and where you need further development.

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