Training course discovers need for project leadership

During a project management training course activity I noticed that one of the groups was very quiet. There was little eye contact between people in the group, talking was intermittent and people looked uncomfortable. Contrast this with the two other groups who were very animated and very loud with lots o0f activity.

I stood back for a few moments and observed some more. The same behaviours were noticed from the quiet group.

I usually visit each group a couple of times during any training activity. I went to this group and asked how they were getting on. There was a strong silent pause which kept on for about 15 seconds. People were uncomfortable talking about what was clearly an difficult situation for them.

I asked the group if I could give them some observations. When they said yes, I told them exactly what I had seen as described above. They agreed that this was the case. I then asked them whether the way they were working was good or bad for the group; answering the question myself saying it looked bad. Did they agree? Yes they all said.

I then posed a further question; what do you need to do to do to work together and deliver the outcome required? One person suggested it would be useful to have a leader in the group. A couple of people nodded. I then asked if this is what they all felt would help. They all agreed. I left them to identify who this would be.

When the 3 groups came together we reviewed the learning from the activity (developing a stakeholder plan). The interesting thing that came out for the group under discussion was that they felt they had gained enormously from their lack of leadership. Two people felt that the pain in the group was actually what they suffered in a couple of projects as there was no clear project manager. In one case there was a project manager however this person displayed little or no leadership which explained to one person why the project was meandering quietly .

The end of course evaluations were most interesting with many people saying that project leadership was essential.

I did not engineer the situation, it happened. As one person suggested; you simply put us in groups (similar to the way they were selected for projects) and left us to it after an initial briefing. The concluding remark was that they need to engineer it so there is clear project leadership all the way through the project.

So, my question for the day is this; is there clear project leadership on or in your projects? If yes, great, if no, what are you going to do about it? If yes, how are you going to measure its effectiveness?

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One Response to Training course discovers need for project leadership

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Working for a project management training provider ( ), I’m always interested to read about responses to training from the point of view of both attendees and trainers. In the case of the above post, I think the attendees’ experience proves why we need an individual who takes the lead as PM!

    Knowledge Train interviewed a member of project management recruitment organisation Arras People, and the characteristics of a good project manager were discussed with interest during that conversation. A comment that I remember well from the interviewee is that effective project managers have a talent for making their fellow team members ‘sit up and want to […] work with them’. More on this topic and others relevant to project management careers advice has been published on the KT blog:

    Hope this is of interest.

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