Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Project Managers as Leaders

The biggest failure that I can see – with the limited knowledge we have right now – in FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina was a failure in leadership.

Now that a new director has been appointed at FEMA, we’ll see if he has what it takes to succeed.

How do we know if someone’s a leader? And do project managers need to be leaders?

Someone’s a leader if the people around her/him are willing to do their jobs at 100%. Some of the characteristics of a leader are:

  • Able to communicate vision
  • Able to develop strategies to reach that vision
  • Able to develop tactics to support those strategies
  • Able to create passion about that vision

Think about leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy. Both of these men had vision. They were both passionate about their visions. And they were able to get other people passionate enough to take action toward achieving those visions.

As project managers, we need to have a vision for every project – no matter how large or how small. And we need to communicate that vision to everyone around us. That’s a 360 degree radius.

Project managers are great at developing strategies and tactics – those are the tools of our trade. But do we create passion in other people for each of our projects?

Write a comment here and tell me how you create passion for your projects. I love to hear what you’re doing.


Anonymous S. Randall Westcott said...

One important point you failed to include is that leaders must be the kind of person one wants to follow! Passion and vision are two qualities that inspire a following but even if the “leader” has a great vision, and is real passionate about his/her vision if s/he can not earn the respect of others no one will follow.

S. Randall Westcott

Monday, July 02, 2007 9:00:00 AM  
Blogger Diana Lindstrom said...

Thank you, Randall, for your comment.

The idea that leaders have to be respected in order to be followed is interesting.

If the vision is clear enough, and the passion is easily felt, I have found that people will follow. The catch is that the vision has to be something that they believe in.

For example, President Bush II has a vision of the world he wants to live in. When we were so frightened on 9/11/01 by the terrorist attacks, most of us shared his vision. The vision of a world where we are never attacked again. So he became a leader.

Since then, we've learned more about his vision of the world he wants to live in. A world where all people share the same type of government - whether they want it or not.

Most of us do not share that vision, and he is no longer our leader. He's just the head of state for most people.

Did we respect him on 9/13/01? Not necessarily, but we shared his vision. And we followed him.

In summary, how many leaders throughout history have been known well enough to be respected? Julius Caesar? Napoleon? Churchill? Martin Luther King, Jr.? JFK?

Monday, July 02, 2007 3:22:00 PM  

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