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PMBOK and detailing leadership

I read an article the other day over at Project Manager Planet. This work by Herman Mehling was titled “Project Manager or Project Leaders – What’s in a title?”  It’s a simple enough question but can have a complicated answer.  Herman points out that, for some, the titles are virtually synonymous.

What can be confusing about the English language, at times, is different words can sometimes have the same meanings. In this instance, that is not the case. These are not synonyms!

Upon reviewing the PMBOK on the word, I found an uncanny absence.   It’s really only mentioned a few times in the entire book!

Page 26
Project Managers…this high profile role requires

flexibility, good judgment, strong leadership and negotiation skills, and a solid knowledge of project management practices.

Page 240

Successful projects require strong leadership skills. Leadership is important through all phases of the project life cycle. It is especially important to communicate the vision and inspire the project team to achieve high performance.

Page 417 Appendix G

Leadership involves focusing the efforts of a group of people toward a common goal and enabling them to work as a team. In general terms, leadership is the ability to get things done through others. Respect and trust, rather than fear and submission, are the key elements of effective leadership. Although important throughout all project phases, effective leadership is critical during the beginning phases of the project when the emphasis is on communication vision and motivating and inspiring project participants to achieve high performance….

If it states on page 240 that successful projects require strong leadership skills, why is it not more thoroughly listed in the 4th edition?  If it’s critical in the beginning phases, as listed on page 417, why is it not detailed?  Since “expert judgment” is listed as a tool & technique throughout the body of knowledge, I think PMI missed an opportunity to include “acts of leadership”.  Perhaps we should start by renaming the 4th PMI process group from Monitoring & Controlling” to maybe include & Inspiring.

Thoughts on the topic?

Image Source: Flickr James @NZ

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

6 Responses to “PMBOK and detailing leadership”

  1. August 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Are we talking about the basic difference? A project lead can be somebody like me – an assistant to the project manager. On the other hand, I’m the project manager on some projects. I don’t think the titles are interchangeable at all, and I’m guessing you don’t either.

    • Derek Huether
      August 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

      Hey Laura, thank you for the comment.
      Actually, the point I’m trying to make is there is a lack of leadership detailed in the PMBOK. In the references I included, PMI states leadership is required and it’s critical. If they truly believe that, why is it not more commonly listed? I used expert judgment as an example. It is very commonly listed as a tool or technique. I think leadership has equal weight to the success probability of a project.

  2. August 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Are we talking about the basic difference? A project lead can be somebody like me – an assistant to the project manager. On the other hand, I’m the project manager on some projects. I don’t think the titles are interchangeable at all, and I’m guessing you don’t either.

    • Derek Huether
      August 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

      Hey Laura, thank you for the comment.
      Actually, the point I’m trying to make is there is a lack of leadership detailed in the PMBOK. In the references I included, PMI states leadership is required and it’s critical. If they truly believe that, why is it not more commonly listed? I used expert judgment as an example. It is very commonly listed as a tool or technique. I think leadership has equal weight to the success probability of a project.

  3. August 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I am always amazed at the lack of help in the PMBOK. The statements are right, but there’s nothing developed that helps someone understand how to grow the skill or develop a useful tool or template.

    The best thing about the PMBOK? It leaves a nice big gap for us to fill with our own “How to Manage Projects” books.

    Have a great day

  4. August 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I am always amazed at the lack of help in the PMBOK. The statements are right, but there’s nothing developed that helps someone understand how to grow the skill or develop a useful tool or template.

    The best thing about the PMBOK? It leaves a nice big gap for us to fill with our own “How to Manage Projects” books.

    Have a great day

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