Commitments as a leader

by Donnie MacNicol

Many models exist which aim to describe leadership. These can include a description of the practices, competencies, characteristics, traits and behaviours. Each looks at leadership through a different lens. An excellent example is Kouzes and Posner’s (2007) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. This model identifies the five practices common to personal-best leadership experiences.

We have adapted this for the leadership of projects and added an additional practice, Deliver Value and its two commitments. As part of each practice there are behaviours or commitments that can serve as a basis for learning to lead, an ongoing requirement for each leader as they change and the context within which they lead changes. It is a generic leadership model but can be applied to the role of the project leader, as described below using the original commitments as a basis.

Many organizations have developed their own set of leadership competencies which reflect their own circumstances and what they are trying to achieve. This is critical, since although the competencies are broadly similar between organizations and industries, the specific context and areas of focus must be captured and built in to the set of competencies. We have been involved in doing this for multiple organisations globally and found a lot of consistency between sectors and geographies, adapted to suit the context of course.

Do you agree with the model below? Can you suggest how it can be improved? Do you have any suggestions as to where it could be used? Please comment above or contact me directly.

Practice Commitment

Model the Way

  1. Find your natural style and personal values as a project leader and work with the team to identify a set of shared values to which you can work on the project

  2. Lead by example by modelling the behaviours that align with the shared values

Inspire a Shared Vision
(Chapter 8)

  1. Develop a vision of the project, aligned to the vision of the organisation and client, which describes a future which is exciting and full of possibility

  2. Engage the project team, organisation and client in the project vision by appealing to their shared aspirations

Challenge the Process

  1. Actively seek better and innovate ways of working to improve team and project performance

  2. Adapt and modify your own approach and that of the project, taking calculated risks and learning from the outcome

Enable Others to Act

  1. Build a culture of collaboration within the project through building trust across the team

  2. Develop the team by distributing responsibility and decision making as appropriate to the person and context

Deliver Value

  1. Back up your words with actions and deliver what is required

  2. Demonstrate the value that the team has achieved and the link to the vision

Encourage the Heart

  1. Recognise individual team members expertise and contribution to the projects by showing appreciation in a way appropriate to the person

  2. Build a community spirit based on your shared values and celebrate success of individuals and the team


Commitments as a Project Leader. Adapted from The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model (Kouzes and Posner, 2007)


Team Animation Ltd


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