Project Leadership Success: Responsibilities, Competencies and Behaviors That Produce Positive Results – Part 1 of 10

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is wisdom; acting on intelligence and wisdom is leadership.” Lao Tzu

One of the great strengths that defines a successful project leader is the ability to build project teams that can deliver projects faster, better and more cost-effectively. Developing this strength, however, requires a successful balance of several factors. In 2005, my colleague David Williams and I designed and developed what we termed the responsibilities, competencies and behaviors (RCB) approach to project leadership to identify these very factors. When the three critical elements of responsibilities, competencies and behaviors come together, you get effective, successful, productive, powerful, thoughtful, prudent, strong and wise project leadership results.

I’ll be writing a series of blogs on each of these aspects individually as they relate to successful project team leadership. This 10-part series will detail the RCB approach to leadership. The series begins with the responsibilities project managers need to embrace as part of the RCB approach to successful project leadership.  Included will be blogs on 1) aligning vision and goals, 2) coaching and 3) managing change.

Continuing its exploration of the RCB project leadership approach, Parts 4, 5, and 6 of the series will address the competencies that effective project managers should acquire to ensure their success as a project leader. Specifically, these competencies are collaborative communication, effective decision-making, and employing Emotional Intelligence (EI).

The Project Leadership Success series concludes with the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th installments – the behaviors project managers need to embrace as part of the RCB approach to successful project leadership. These four parts will focus on the behavioral aspects that successful project managers have incorporated into their leadership style to motivate and inspire their staff. Included will be blogs on embracing integrity, building trust, working with difference and establishing a “servant” leadership role.

Part 1 of 10: Responsibilities: Aligning Vision and Goals

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, “ Please, could you tell me which way I should go?” “That depends on where you want to go,” the Cheshire Cat replies. “I don’t really care,” says Alice, “as long as I get somewhere.” To which the Cheshire Cat responds, “Well, it doesn’t matter then, does it?”

Unlike Alice, project leaders do need to know where they’re going and need to establish a vision for the project. That vision should focus on:

• Determining goals (Where are we going?)

• Developing strategies to reach them (How will we get there?)

• Developing and conducting evaluations to identify the point when the goals have been     reached (How will we know when we get there?)

A vision is more than a forecast. It shows how all the parts of a project fit together and relate to one another. By thinking strategically and systematically, project leaders ensure that there are clear team goals that will foster excitement and commitment within the team.

In fact, project team members (followers) expect project managers (leaders) to set the stage. Says Peter F. Drucker, “The foundation of effective leadership is thinking through the organization’s mission, defining it and establishing it, clearly and visibly. The leader sets the goals, sets the priorities, and sets and maintains the standards. What distinguishes the leader from the misleader is his goals. Whether the compromise he makes with the constraints of reality—which may involve political, economic, and financial people problems—is compatible with his mission and goals, or leads away from them, determines whether he is an effective leader. And whether he holds fast to a few basic standards (exemplifying them in his own conduct), or whether standards for him are what he can get away with, determines whether the leader has followers or hypocritical time-servers.” (from Drucker, Peter F. The Essential Drucker, HarperCollins, pg. 270, 2001.)  Next post we will discuss how coaching is a vital responsibility of all successful leaders.

Download the complete white paper, Leadership Success: Behaviors, Competencies and Responsibilities That Produce Positive Results, which documents the responsibilities of a successful leader.

James L. Haner

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