Eight Things PMOs Need to Know About Project Leadership

project leadershipLast month at Project Challenge we had the opportunity to record one of the presentations that we’ve been keen to hear about for a while, project leadership. Sarah Coleman is co-author of the new Project Leadership book and Sarah hosted a session on that subject.

You can view the whole presentation (and I recommend you do) below.

Here’s the eight insights we took away from the presentation because as you know, leadership is just as important to the PMO community too:


A term I’ve not come across before – it stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguity and reflects the kind of environment we are often supporting projects and programmes in.

2. New reality

A recognition that project management is not just about planning and control – there is a strong push at the moment to move towards stronger emphasis on management and leadership.

3. Not just ‘leaders’

Increasing leadership capability is not just for those people who are deemed to be leaders – there are a wide range of people who need leadership capability – of course, the PMO being one of them.

4. Leading Vs Managing

A great quote from Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) that highlights the difference between leading and managing:

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
Sarah also mentioned how this was related to the term “helicopter view” which came from Shell in the 1980s.

5. Three top competencies

Project leaders go beyond the technical competencies and focus specifically in three areas of business acumen; interpersonal skills and organisational intelligence. The three competency areas that really make a difference are: Vision and Big Picture – Building Key Relationships – Communication and Engagement. Make sure you check out the video on this one – there are some great questions to be answered.

6. Eight Looking Model

The eight different views that a project leader has to take on board – the model touches on stakeholders, vision, keeping an eye on the ball and performance.

7. Project Culture Matrix

We all work well in different types of organisation environments and cultures – is your organisation culture individual, process, relationship or community?

8. Leadership development programmes

The different options for developing leadership capability – how to improve existing skills, knowing what to delegate or drop to make way for the new skills.

Hope you enjoy the video – many thanks to Sarah for letting us record it. Sarah’s contact details are on the video or you can follow her on Twitter here.


About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.