Leadership, why develop it?

by Donnie MacNicol

Leadership, rather than simply management, is what the sponsors of change seek from those who they entrust with their programmes and projects. The growing expectation is that they will deliver successfully for the organisation, no matter what challenges arise.

The Annual Project Leadership Conference, jointly produced by RICS and APM, illuminated and provided attendees with valuable insights into what leadership is, and what leaders must do to achieve what we all strive for – successful delivery. The key insights were:

  1. The leader must accept and learn to live in a world where change is all pervasive, with new forms of threat and opportunity (different sides of the risk coin) constantly emerging .Change comes from new technologies, ways of working, alliancing, and many other mechanisms. As an example, new forms of procurement which engage Levels 2 and 3 of the supply chain at a much earlier stage disrupt the accepted way of doing things

  2. Failure occurs and must be openly discussed. The leader must understand why failure occurs and what can be learned from it and applied in the context of future projects, to minimise the risks. The leader must create a culture of trust and openness to ensure concerns can be voiced and dealt with early

  3. As alliancing in all its many shapes and guises increases to meet changing customer needs, the leader must have a better understanding of the interfaces and potential sources of conflict / misunderstanding between functions and organisations. The aim - to create a team that is greater than the sum of its parts

  4. Trusting relationships must be built quickly. Projects increasingly require more extensive and complex forms of alliancing. Threats increase but paradoxically so do the opportunities if true collaboration can be created. Utilising the collective knowledge, experiences, resources and energy of the extended project team will be critical in the future

  5. Leadership requires effective management, and vice versa. For effective management you require strategies, processes and tools to minimise risk. The leader must therefore be aware of the latest techniques and approaches within the practice of risk management; providing them with the knowledge to adapt these practices to the unique set of characteristics of the programme and context within which it is being delivered

  6. Leaders have an enormous impact on a project, not only in what they do but also how they do it. They must therefore understand their own communication and leadership style, and those of other key team members and the impact these behaviours have on relationships, team effectiveness and the way in which project management is used.


Team Animation Ltd


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