When Project Managers Stumble as Leaders
The biggest project disasters that has been observed had little to do with the typical items that we think of in our risk planning activities. With the clarity of hindsight, the big project failures were related to people-issues and in all cases, the project manager failed as a leader.
You can spot these real-time disasters by learning to recognize the symptoms of poor leadership at work:
- Constant bickering and finger pointing
- Too many and poorly managed meetings
- No sense of purpose and no camaraderie
- Executive interference
- A lousy sponsor
- Poor collaboration
- Missed milestones and constant re-estimating
- A “Canʼt Do” attitude
- A “weʼre doomed” tone when it comes to problems
Is this painful enough?
In one particularly impressive project debacle, We observed every one of these symptoms. The project manager in this case had excellent knowledge of the tools and techniques needed to structure and run a project. However, he dropped the ball on his leadership tasks, and the results were catastrophic. The project died on the vine of leadership incompetence and in this instance, the
organization squandered a great opportunity to inflict pain on a competitor. The competitor was not so incompetent, and succeeded where the other firm failed. The ripple effect of this project failure was felt in the market for the next several years.
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