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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

PM Coaching WorkbookWARNING:  This is a workbook.  Do not read it if you want to read just another book on project management, project leadership, and project success.  If, however, you are sincerely interested in learning what it takes to develop and improve your project management and leadership skills and you are eager to learn why and how these are crucial ingredients for project and personal success, get a copy of this book and start working with it today.
Note that I wrote working with this book.  For it would be a shame if you were just reading this book like any other, then put it on a bookshelf and forget about it.

So, what is this book about?  The back cover states “Starting with an insightful self-assessment, The Project Management Coaching Workbook: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential offers tools, questions, reviews, guiding practices, and exercises that will help you build your roadmap to project management and leadership success.”  True.
What makes this book special is that it starts out with an insightful definition of project management and project leadership.  Susanne explains “As a manager, you are typically involved in scheduling work, delegating tasks, coordinating effort and resources, monitoring and guiding progress, building teams, and appealing to rational thinking.  As a leader, however, your role is to inspire people, explain goals, share the vision, provide focus, be a role model, monitor morale, create a positive team feeling, and unleash potential.” (p.8-9)

The book is about both: project management and project leadership.  It is this stretch that makes the workbook special.  There are a lot of books about project management and probably even more on leadership.  Unfortunately, there are only a very few that explain why and how management and leadership has to be dealt with together.  Maybe it is because it can be quite a stretch.  This is certainly true.  Just because you are a good manager does not make you a good leader.  On the other side, if you are a good project manager it is probably because you also embrace qualities and skills of project leadership.  Effective project management therefore is the combination of strong task management and people management and leadership.

The book is into 6 major parts, each corresponding to a 6-step assessment and coaching model.  They are:

Step 1: What do you want to achieve? Create your vision and mission statement

Step 2: Self-assessment: Create a benchmark of your current skill set

Step 3: 360 feedback: Seek feedback from managers, peers, and customers

Step 4: Action: Create an action plan and move forward

Step 5: Guiding practices:  Learn more about project management and leadership techniques

Step 6: Progress review: Examine your progress and determine next steps

Each of the chapters include an explanation of the core concepts and then quickly walks the reader through a self-assessment and guiding questions and principles which show the reader how to apply the principles in a daily project setting.  It is not dry theory, it is very pragmatic and it encourages you to become active.  After all, it is a workbook.

Target audience:  Whether you are a novice project manager or have been in the profession for years, you will get a lot out of this book.  Hence, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in project management, project leadership and project success.  It is also a book for a team, a department, a division or even a whole company that wants to take team and project performance to the next level.  Indeed working with this book in a team will reveal more about good management and leadership on the individual and group level than working with the book by yourself.

Shortcomings:  … none really.  Personally, I would have liked a bibliography but that’s pretty much it.

In a nutshell: (4 ½ stars out of 5)  A must-read for those who want to take project management and leadership to the next level.

Madsen, S. (2012). Project Management Coaching Workbook: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential. Tysons Corner, VA: Management Concepts.

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On November 1, 2012 I had the privilege to speak at and attend the 2012 Synergy Projec Management Event in London, UK.  It was a fabulous conference with more than 500 people attending.  Considering that there were “only” about 850 people attending the PMI Global Congres EMEA in Marseile this May, the Synergy numbers are outstanding and speak for themselves.  There were a number of factors which made this event very special (compared to PMI GC EMEA):

  • focused on 1 day
  • diverse speakers with presentation topics not so much about technical project management skills but project management in action; speakers helped the audience to think outside the box
  • venue: the Indigo2 at the O2 arena is really impressive
  • organization

My own presentation “Project Management and Zen: Achieving a Work-Life Balance” was very well received, too.  As promised I am making the presentation available to the general public under the Creative Commons agreement.  Feel free to download the ppt-file, use it, spread the message, and please share your stories.

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Join us on November 15, 2012 for what is arguably the largest virtual project management event in the world!

Last year over 30,000 professionals attended, with rave reviews. This year we hope to reach over 50,000. Once registered, you will have access to over 30 recorded video presentations where you ‘ll learn about the most current and critical topics in the world today.
You can also visit Virtual Booths on various knowledge areas, live chat with the presenters, stop by Sponsor Booths, and download white papers and other collateral.
This free event can earn you up to 15 PDU’s.  Register Free Now at IPM Day 2012, visit http://www.iil.com or watch the official trailer of this unique event.

Myself, I will be talking about “Leadership Principles for Project Success“.


We all need and thrive for successful projects.  But what does it take to get there?  This session explains why project management alone is insufficient and shows why project leadership is the decisive factor for project success.  The session outlines 5 simple yet powerful leadership principles which, if applied systematically, can help you pave the path to project success. It illustrates how you can use these principles to set up, manage, and align your projects for success. Last but not least, it shows you how to become an effective project leader.

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Today I want to share some of  Q&As from Neal Whitten’s book Neal Whitten’s Let’s Talk: More No-Nonsense Advice for Project Success—Over 700 Q&As! which I highly recommend to anyone seriously interested in project management and leadership.

 

Q. As a leader, is an ego a help or a hindrance?

A. Mostly a hindrance. When you go to work each day, leave your ego outside. It’s not about you. It’s about the success of your project, organization, and company. It’s about good business. An overactive ego can get in the way of making sound judgments, establishing and maintaining good working relationships, and learning and growing from our mistakes.


Q. As a young person, I am not seen as a leader to be treated with respect, even though my teams and projects have received high marks for success. How can I deal with this “handicap”?

A. Savor your youth. Do not wish it away; it will evaporate sooner than you would like. All of us were young employees once. You must channel your energies and passion into performing your best.

But a word of caution: Show respect for the knowledge and wisdom of those older than you. Be open to their ideas, and do not come across like a know-it-all. As much as you think you know now, you will know far, far more in five, ten, or twenty years. For now, you may have to work harder than others, but you will win over some converts.

Q. I don’t look forward to the plethora of problems that confront me each day. As a leader, am I in the wrong job?

A. Perhaps, but if you expect to remain a leader in whatever job you choose, you must learn to like and be comfortable around problems. You should adopt the attitude that “problems are our friends”—without problems, you probably would not have a job. Moreover, your level of salary is likely related to your ability to solve problems.

As a consultant and mentor, if I did not have problems to confront, I would not have a job. I sincerely and enthusiastically look forward to the problems that my clients throw at me. If too many are coming my way, then I will prioritize them, and the most important and urgent problems will be solved first.

The higher you climb career-wise and the more responsibilities you take on, the greater the likelihood that you will be unable to resolve every problem. You will either need to get help from others or accept that some problems take longer to resolve than you’d like. Whatever challenges you must confront, thinking about problems with the right mindset can make all the difference in your effectiveness and enthusiasm.

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PMI Global Congress EMEA, Marseille, France, May 2012

Please join me for my presentation on Wednesday May 9, 2012 at the PMI Global Congress EMEA in Marseille.  I will be speaking about The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success and how they can help build and manage a performing and winning team.

Additional information about the presentation is available at the official PMI Global Congress EMEA website.

A handout of the presentation is available here as well as an article on the 5 team leadership principles for project success.

See you in Marseille!

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Today’s projects become increasingly complex and a test of our leadership. What do you recommend to master this increasing complexity and to show your leadership skills at the same time?

Individuals in the team and the whole team need orientation and guidance or an inspiration how to do so by themselves. Personally, I have found that the philosophy of Zen offers many insights which can help us achieves this. In simple, easy to understand language it outlines avenues to find our lost individual and project identity, overcome burdens and master challenges, reduce complexity and guide us to personal success.

My latest presentation on the very topic is now available on Slideshare.

This presentation introduces 10 Zen insights and translates them into the language of project management. It thus shows how to apply Zen insights in a project setting. Zen can help inspire us personally and how to interact effectively with our team, customers and stakeholders. Applying Zen in projects makes it easier to build teams, perform on a high level and deliver results which delight our customers and teams alike. It thus helps us and the team to evolve into a performing unit and excel.

In a nutshell, the 10 insights are the following:

1. Identity:
You have to understand, accept and embrace the actual motivation of your project.

2. Timeliness in a time-sensitive world
We must not be became slaves of time pressure.  Instead we have to ensure a creative freedom and solve problems from the distance

3. The power of vision
Projects are NOT just about SMART project objectives.  As a matter of fact, SMART project objectives without a vision kills creativity, risks results and may lead to failure.

4. Overcoming Angst and the need for action
In situations of severe stress, don’t fall into the trap of rapid action or even blaming others. Instead, relax and take responsibility for your situation.

5. Invidiualism and hierarchy
Instead of being manipulated by others, this principle encourages us to personalize our projects and thus project success.

6. Leadership and motivation
Leadership and motivation go hand in hand.  We have unleash guiding energies in our team and develop a solution- and reults orientation in our team.

7. Simplicity
There is no law that complex problems require complex and complicated solutions.  Less is more.  This is a reminder not to get lost in the jungle of details and keep the eye on the vision of our project.

8. Truth and illusion
Let’s face it, perceptions are more important than facts.  It is futile to look for a simple truth.  After all a simple truth is no more than an assumption which may be false altogether.

9. Team play
Every project is about people, it is about teamwork.  Let’s nurture collaboration and enjoy the game of projects

10. Passion
If everyone on the team understands the WHY of the project, everyone can identify him/herself with the project.  The project becomes a part of them.  This passion sets the individual and the whole team free, resulting in team synergy and team magic.

Let me know if you are interested to hear / read more about it.

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I have been a fan and avid support of true empowerment of people and organizations.  It is about sharing your information, experience, network, power and influence for the better of someone else.  It is servant leadership at its best.  Yes, it is about leadership and not management.  Why do I even mention this distinction?  Because it matters a GREAT deal.

As empowerment, Agile, Lean principles are becoming increasingly popular more and more managers embrace these ideas.  They claim to be honestly interested in trying them out in their organizations and teams.  This is good news and a noble act.  Alas, it means nothing if the manager in charge does not truly understand the underlying concept and philosophy of empowerment.  It is no longer about him or her, it is about helping others become successful.  This is really difficult for traditional managers.  Having to let go of their old concept of power and influence.  Letting go of their own “safety” net and build one for others.  Oha!

So, while I am usually excited when I hear managers talk about empowerment, empowering people or strong teams I have learned to become curious about their motivations behind it.  It is always good to question what made them change their old style of managing and instead “embracing” something new.  Indeed, embracing may not be the correct word.  For if you truly embrace an idea you become one with it.  You follow through, show your willingness to make mistakes and learn from them without giving up after the first downfall and then returning to the old school.

Empowerment is powerful. Much more powerful in its execution and its effects on people and organizations alike than any traditional approach.  It unleashes hidden talents, helps promote collaboration, promotes performance and ensures results.  But it doesn’t fall from heaven.  It takes leadership of one or more people.  It is them who have to drive building common vision, nurturing collaboration, promoting performance without micromanaging their teams, cultivating validated learning and ensuring that the teams deliver results and get credit for them.  There are a lot of obstacles to overcome: vanity, the lust for power and influence, insecurity – and a closed vs. an open mindset whereas the latter is characterized by the willingness to make mistakes and the drive to help other people and organizations succeed for the better of all.  Management on the other side, maintains and sustains the status quo, executes what is dictated from above (top-down management), allows micromanagement which kills motivation and creativity.  This is why I think that traditional management is the death of empowerment.

If you want to empower people and organizations you have to practice servant leadership; for it is not about you as an individual, it is about the greater good of the environment you are living in.

I do hope that more and more people and organizations understand and follow the path of empowerment.  Not for short term gains but for long term results which benefit us all.  Happy Easter!

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Last night I had the chance to talk with Kim Page, author of the upcoming book “From Corporate to Conscious“, about the new business paradigm moving to a more holistic and conscious leadership style. The conversation can be listened to at http://bit.ly/secSwx.

I was and am very excited about the opportunity to speak with the Quantum Scene’s Kim Page who takes a look at business from an entirely different perspective; A CONSCIOUS perspective.  This is no new abstract idea or academic exercise.  It is a shift back to our true human nature.  It can help make our business world a better place to live and work in.
It can be questioned whether or not this is actually a new paradigm.  From the strictest point of view this may not be the case because a conscious perspective strings a cord we are, or ought to be, familiar with in our daily life.  Fact is that we have moved away from our inner core.  The result is that we have been creating a business world which is often entirely driven by greed and glutiny.  The call for a conscious perspective is a reminder that business is about exchanging goods and services, i.e., serving each other.

Why not keep this new paradigm in mind as we enter the new year 2012?!  Let’s live this new paradigm and make a difference in our own daily life and influence others.  Happy New Year!

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The big and typical question you ask yourself at the end of the year how the past 12 months were, how you faired.  This year it is a simple question to answer: yes, it was a great year!  Or, shall I say another great year.  Most of my consulting this year was for an internet service provider in Karlsruhe.  Not only did were these consulting engagements challenging and intellectually rewarding it was and is convenient to our family for it is only a 35 minutes commute from Heidelberg to Karlsruhe.  One of the main reasons I am very grateful for this consulting opportunity.

Next to consulting I have been giving seminars, webinars, podcasts, presentations and interviews on numerous topics such as leadership, collaboration, learning project organizations, ethics, agile product development, team building, innovation, project management, and empowerment.  The main conferences I attended and spoke at were the PMI Global Congresses in Dublin and Dallas and the NASA Project Management Challenge in Long Beach, CA.  Wonderful events.  I can encourage every professional project managers to attend at least one of these conferences.  The learning is exceptional as are networking opportunities.

One of the major milestones in 2011 was the founding of i-Sparks I founded this summer.  i-Sparks is an open online innovation and learning community that facilitates innovation across entire systems. It provides a platform for people and institutions to discover, develop, and test new ways of operating and to put their ideas to work.  i-Sparks aims at every person or institution which is motivated to understand the root causes of today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, to rethink how people and institutions live and operate, and thus to create opportunities for redesigning business models and social change protocols, working more collaboratively across groups, institutions and sectors.

At present we are working on a first prototype which we plan to launch this coming spring.  Stay tuned and follow us on our website www.i-sparks.com.

Business is only one element in our life though it absorbs most of it these days.  Luckily there are the welcome breaks called vacation.  Have a look at my online photo albums for impressions of Long Beach,

Vail,

Vals

and South Tyrol.

So, what about next year?  The outlook is more than promising.  It is funny that lots of people talk about an economic crisis.  Unemployment is at a record low in southern Germany, economic growth is strong, the overall atmosphere and outlook are positive.  And yet other European countries and their economies are struggling.  There are numerous reasons for this imbalance.  I don’t want to start this debate.  What is worrying however is that people, i.e., European politicians and so-called experts, continue to talk about the dawn of another recession in Germany.  This, of course, can have an impact – psychologically.  Rationally and ethically, this chitchat is not comprehensible.  Let’s see what next year will bring.  I am optimistic and hope you too share this enthusiasm.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Join me today for my free webinar “Ethics and Project Success” which I will be conducting for the Ethics in Project Management Community of Practice of PMI on December 21, 2011 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM Local Time (UTC +0100) (1 hour), i.e., 12 noon EST.  What will it be about?  Let me share with you the abstract:

We all need and thrive for project success. But what does it take to get there? There is no doubt that good project management is a critical success factor. But is it really sufficient? I don’t think so. I claim that effective project management needs to have a solid foundation in holistic leadership. This leadership is embedded in strong project management skills, personal leadership, teamwork, and last but not least, a solid understanding and honest practice of the four codes of ethics, namely: respect, honesty, fairness, and responsibility.
Based on my own experience having managed projects of all sizes, from a few to 24000 person days effort in various industries, I identify 5 team leadership principles that put the code of ethics into the context of high-performance teams. They include building a common project vision, nurturing team collaboration, promoting team performance, cultivating team learning, and ensuring team delivery. These 5 principles combined with the 4 codes of ethics encompass the core of effective and holistic team leadership. The webinar will present these principles and show how they can help build and manage a performing and winning team, thus building project success.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/c27grmq to register for this free webinar.  A handout of the presentation is available here.

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