As we (at Turlon & Associates) deliver our Project Management, PMP® and PgMP® Preparation workshops, we have always focused on what makes a good Project and Program Manager. In doing this John Adair’s simple Action-Centred Leadership model is of particular use to explain the variety of characteristics that are required. This model gives a great action focus for project / program managers on what they need to be doing across the responsibilities of project leadership and project management.
The reality is that good project managers should have full command of the three main areas of the Action Centred Leadership model, and should be able to use each of the elements:
- Action 1 is Task Focus which asks the Project Manager to be able to plan, navigate, control and deliver on what is required.
- Action 2 is Process Focus which asks the Project Manager to share and communicate vision and manage organisational conflict / agility
- Action 3 is Individual Focus which asks the Project Manager to reach out and drive change through the phenomena of Management by Walking About
Getting results, building morale, improving quality, developing teams and increasing productivity are all the marks of a successful project manager.
Somehow we are supposed to be leaders and managers all in one and still deliver on the project. The Talent Triangle from the Project Management Institute (PMI) address this in that project managers should have a technical ability, be able to deliver to the business and understand what it takes to lead from the front:
- Technical Project Management is the skill that includes knowledge and behaviours related to specific domains of project, program and portfolio management.
- Leadership is the knowledge, skills and behaviours specific to leadership-oriented skills that help an organisation achieve its business goals.
- Strategic and Business Management is the knowledge of and expertise in the industry or organisation that enhances performance and better delivers business outcomes.
So this is how PMI see the role and more importantly the characteristics of project management. PMI insist that project management is a job that demands a varied and vast skill set. Here is how they are mapped out:
- Technical Project Management: – You should be aware of the project specifications and activities. I think we can agree if you do not have knowledge of the project activities, you will face difficulties with understanding their problems, and finding solutions will also be difficult. So you have the level of technical expertise necessary to successfully complete a project
- Leadership: – These skills are about developing a vision for your team members and inspire them to achieve the target. As an effective leader, you should inspire your team members about the future, and give them a vision which ultimately will help you achieve your target.
- Strategic and Business Management: – Strategic and business management helps you analyse business decisions before you implement them. This is about understanding and challenging the benefit and the business value. These analyses include cost benefit analysis, strength and weakness analysis, market conditions, legal requirements and compliance, etc.
In today’s dynamic environment a project manager has to be versatile. Having expertise in one skill is not enough. The PMI’s Talent Triangle is the set of skills that a project manager should possess to successfully complete the project. It is not all about what the project needs to achieve, it is what it needs to achieve for the business and with the constraint to the assigned team
The final question I would ask, what is the difference between Adair’s Action Centered Leadership and PMI’s Talent Triangle? Very little if anything and bot show that project management is a multi-facet discipline.