Projects and The Leadership Challenge

The Leadership ChallengeStrategies, tactics, skills and practices are empty without an understanding of the fundamental human aspirations that connect leaders and constituents. This message from The Leadership Challenge rings so true for project management. As I continue with communication and leadership book review this week, I want to share key principles from this book on how to improve any project, program or portfolio initiative.

Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge suggest key practices for transformative leadership. They are:

Model the Way

Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals.

Set the example by aligning actions with shared values

Inspire a Shared Vision

Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities.

Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.

Challenge the Process

Search for opportunities by seizing the imitative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve

Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience

Enable other to Act

Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships.

Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.

Encourage the Heart

Recognize contributions by showing appreciate for individual excellence

Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.


How can project managers use these Leadership Challenge principles immediately to influence our work outcomes? By finding your voice, your niche and focusing on identifying values that you stand for. As an example,’s has kicked off some virtual communities. The Organizational Project Management (OPM) Community of Practice (COP) is a group of project professionals who are looking at how to both talk about and help accelerate the linkage between project work and strategic results. This is a top topic. It’s a big challenge to figure out how to prove the value of project management and our need for a results orientation. This is also a tough topic. OPM is confused with all the areas that could contribute to it, tools, PMO, leadership and many more.

The OPM COP team met recently and realized over lunch between our working sessions the need to Model the Way by stating our voice, our values and our drive and passion for the many volunteer hours we spend on this. What was the result? We came up with a draft Vision and Mission. While still in flight, the Vision and Mission statement helps give form, shape and direction to 100 action items and initiatives that we need to accomplish.

You too can help your project team by reading this book and doing the exercises in the accompanying workbook. This is a great book. It is both pragmatic and infectiously positive about implementation ideas.  Enjoy!


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