Masters of Servitude: Giving Up Control Doesn’t Mean Losing Control

By their very nature, leaders, are supposed to lead the way. But sometimes embracing the qualities of a good follower can make a more effective leader.

So-called “servant leaders” focus on the needs of their teams rather than adhering to a top-down hierarchy centered on commands barked from the upper echelons. For project managers, the leadership style can help secure buy-in from team members by playing to their particular talents.

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Now, That’s a Good Story!

There is a growing school of thought in the practice of leadership that we do not follow people. Instead, we commit to following stories that resonate with us. The story is the leader, not a person. What is your story? What story will others tell about your agile project? The questions are important because of the power of story.

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Watermelon Projects

As organizations grow, senior leadership inevitably asks for more aggregated reporting; there is too much going on for them to know all the details. A popular version of this reporting is the stoplight: red, yellow, green. But when you reduce complex efforts into a single color, there can be a shocking loss of fidelity.

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Read All About It…

Here’s our March 2010 roundup of recently published books recommended by and for project management professionals, including the latest thinking on leadership … a primer on earned scheduling performance … guides to business process improvement initiatives and preparing for PMI certifications … a business analysis glossary … and more.

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PM Candidates, Personality Tests

Many companies are incorporating personality assessments into the hiring process to gauge cultural fit, leadership potential and other elusive factors. Here an organizational development expert discusses the value of these tests, a tip for weeding out unreliable ones, and a 10-point checklist (plus three questions) that can help identify promising project managers and team members.

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No Authority, No Problem

Project managers are often described as leaders without authority. It is a role that relies on influence rather than formal power. But what some may view as a professional handicap is actually an opportunity to engage in true leadership based on self-awareness, awareness of others, and clearly articulated values.

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Off the Beaten PM Path

Technical competency is not enough in a complex, competitive global marketplace. Project and program managers need leadership and business intelligence skills that support the strategic objectives of their organizations, says Nicholas Errico, author of a field guide that presents a fresh perspective to delivering value.

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Independence Day

A significant part of project leadership is providing meaningful opportunities to team members to develop and demonstrate their full potential. But it can be a challenge to balance the need to focus on the work at hand with their desire to pursue new roles and responsibilities. A presentation to stakeholders is a good place to start.

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Innovation Doesn’t Just Happen

In business environments where success is dependent on innovation, project leadership requires flexibility, inquisitiveness and creativity. But it starts at the top, where senior executives must champion a culture unafraid of change, risk-taking and, yes, even the occasional mistake. Projects@Work interviews the CEO of the American Management Association.

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The Monty Python Project Manager: And Now for Something Completely Different

The Monty Python project manager is a model for the new generation of creative collaboration leadership. The author looks at four movies that encapsulate the project management process and discovers lessons on how to generate ideas that are completely different, motivate teams on a quest to deliver the holy project grail, inspire them in times of adversity to look on the bright side of project life, and find true rewards and meaning in their work.

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Determining Whether to Fund Your Next Agile Project

Too many projects, and not enough money or resources to do them all! We need to make prioritized decisions to determine which projects to fund. Chances are that you are in a software leadership role and can’t make the final determination alone; but your expertise will certainly be called upon to help make that determination. This article presents tips that can assist you in making those “fateful” project decisions.

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Training a Psycho PM

Projects need resolute leadership, which emphasizes the importance of project management decisions. They can make a project successful, but they can also make a project fail. That is why obscure human heuristics (mental disposition) and biases (personal inclinations) are so important. PMs need to know how these can influence decisions, along with firmly commanding traditional decision-making techniques.

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Executive Report February 2005

Welcome to the second issue of ProjectsAtWork’s Executive Report (Vol. 1, No. 2), the monthly newsletter for senior managers engaged in high-level, enterprisewide project leadership. In this installment, we present guidelines for keeping projects tied to business objectives throughout the lifecycle … suggest that enterprise process maturity is more about responsibility and honesty than control … and explore the outsourcing option for certain project management functions. Also: a white paper on completing the IT value equation.

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Peak Performance

Mountains–and projects–are conquered one step (and one day) at a time. Mountain climbing provides evocative metaphors for overcoming challenges and achieving objectives. If you accept that project management is fundamentally about getting your team to work together to surmount terrible adversity, moving one step at a time toward a shared and common objective, then mountaineering provides an ideal setting to learn about leadership. Here’s a guide on how to lead your team to the top.

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Power to the People Skills

While delivering projects on time, scope and budget are key parts of every project, success ultimately comes down to the right people doing the work. This article discusses how organizations can gauge people skills and identify red flags in potential job candidates during the hiring process. In doing so, it reports the results of the 2012 Workplace Issues Report–conducted by Six Seconds–showing that those who use emotional intelligence as a basis for leadership outperform their peers by 32 percent in leadership effectiveness and development. It notes how technical skills are easier to determine during an interview than soft skills. Before identifying which skills to target in an interview, you must first define the high-performing project manager for your particular organization. Once you know the skills you’re targeting, you can identify the right questions to ask in an interview. It then lists five questions that can be used during an interview with a potential project professional to determine if he or she possesses the people skills you seek. The article then identifies warning signs that may be observed in potential candidates. It notes that warning signs of subpar communication skills can be detected by paying attention to body language, voice and tone. Accompanying the article is a sidebar discussing the value of people skills.

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Executive Report September 2005

Welcome to ProjectsAtWork’s Executive Report (Vol. 1, No. 9), the newsletter for professionals engaged in high-level, enterprisewide project leadership. In this issue, we look at how an organization has created a benefits realization infrastructure and culture … offer four best practices for building an accessible and effective PMO … and share a report’s recommendations for centralizing IT operations at the state level that might spark discussions in the private sector, too.

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PILOT Your Team

Do some of your team members sit in meetings like they’re on a plane stuck on the runway? It may be time to “PILOT” instead of merely manage them. This method incorporates potential, implementation, leadership, optimization and tenacity to inspire team members to contribute and become more involved and invested in the organization.

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Executive Report April 2005

Welcome to ProjectsAtWork’s Executive Report (Vol. 1, No. 4), the monthly newsletter for executives and managers engaged in high-level, enterprisewide project leadership. In this installment, we outline three actionable value-creating behaviors, including new standards for measuring performance … nominate some important indicators that can’t be viewed on your red-yellow-green project dashboard … and explore the bottom-line consequences of not truly integrating time data throughout your portfolio of initiatives. Also: a primer on IT governance from Troux Technologies.

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PMXPO 2012 Schedule

10:30 a.m. ET — PMXPO 2012 opens!
11-12:15 a.m. ET – Keynote Presentation: CSI: Projects by David Berman and Jon Wellner

12:15-12:30 ET – Keynote Sponsor: Microsoft Tools for Project Collaboration Success

12:30-12:45 ET – Booth Time

12:45-1:45 ET – Session 1: Most Valuable Certifications: A Recipe for Your Perfect Alphabet Soup

1:45-2:15 – Booth Time

2:15-3:15 ET – Session 2: Brave New World of PPM: What We Need, Why We Need It and How To Get There

3:15-3:30 ET – Session Sponsor: How Collaboration is Changing the PPM World by CA

3:30-3:45 ET – Booth Time

3:45-4:45 – Session 3: Going For Gold: Delivering Successfully Despite Uncertainty

4:45-5 ET – Session Sponsor: Can Projects Run 20-50% Faster? by Realization Technologies

5-5:15 ET – Booth Time

5:15-6:15 ET – Session 4: Efficiency vs. Effectiveness: Defining a CXO’s Bottom Line

6:15-6:30 ET – Session Sponsor: Combining Enterprise Efficiency with Project Effectiveness by Oracle

6:30-6:45 ET – Booth Time

6:45-7:45 ET – Session 5: Managing Agility: Embracing the Benefits of Agile Leadership

7:45-8 ET – Booth Time

8-8:15 ET – Closing Remarks: PMXPO 2012 in Review

8:15-8:30 ET – Booth Time/Show Closes

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Tough Things First

Silicon Valley’s longest serving CEO Ray Zinn says that focusing on “culture, kindness and discipline” are how his semiconductor company survived the booms and busts commonplace in the tech industry. Here, he shares his thoughts on leadership, the current startup scene, and the concept of regret.

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Past Due

By studying some of early U.S. history’s important leaders, guiding principals and lessons emerge that can be applied to modern business management: preparation, perseverance, a common framework, leadership with action, and the readiness to seize opportunities, wherever and whenever they may arise.

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Both Sides Now

What do you do when your team’s view is at odds with your organization’s perspective? It would seem like a no-win situation for even the most experienced project managers, but it can be an opportunity to demonstrate true leadership. Here are three steps to diffusing the conflict and providing value.

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Tool Shop: ElectricFlow

Two new continuous delivery solutions promise to accelerate and automate software build, test and deployment activities for all types of organizations, with greater usability from mobile and desktop devices. It’s part of Electric Cloud’s ambitious vision to advance modern software delivery though technology and thought leadership.

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