Tag Archives: Project Leadership

Taking the first step


You have these big plans, big goals and dreams and live for the big moments in life. So where are these big moments and why does it feel that you are always on the outside of success looking in? I am now in my fifties, and was that an eye opener for me. When looking back on a life well lived, I have plenty to be thankful for, and yet if you would ask me if my life was a success, my honest response would be that I am far from being successful. Is it because I have been opting to live for big moments? When I make these statements, my husband would be the first to ask me what my definition of success then is. Is success driving the big new car, staying in the modern mansion and having this high-powered position at the end of the corporate ladder.  Well if that is my definition of success, I surely took all the wrong steps to get there.

John Maxwell in his book called: “Today Matters”, explains the concept of making the correct choices today as it determines what tomorrow would hold. It emphasize the importance of well thought through decision making and an attitude of not wasting a single day.  And in reality, it is scary how easy it is to waste time.  It might be due to the fact that we live as if we have ample supply of time. There is no though associated with the reality of death.

This is a very grim prospect and believe me I do not live with the fear of my life ending either. We all live today with thoughts and hopes for tomorrow, next week, next year and in that, we build a future orientated picture. Now this aligns with a goal orientated mindset. Working and striving to do our best and to achieve more than what we achieving today.  However, if we set the bar too high, we can get discouraged and frustrated in the process.

Let’s take for example the goal to run the Comrades in 2020.  To achieve that objective, we cannot start by running a marathon. You need to train for short distances first, stretch it as you become more comfortable, then run a few half marathons, a few at sea level and a few in the high veld and only then can you be ready to attempt the Comrades.  If the single achievement sat in running the marathon, the probability of failure and fall out would be high.  I have a friend that is training for this. She started to run a 1 km every day and did so for a month. Never running more than what she set out, and enjoyed slowly getting accustomed to the pace and the feel of it. She then started doing 2.5 km and then she participated in park runs that was 5 km and so she is on this journey to her ultimate goal. With every achievement however she celebrated success. She did not wait for the big moment, but enjoyed the smaller achievement of just getting out of bed and doing it despite all the reasons she could find to stay indoors.

Goal orientation is thus important, but it means nothing if you are not taking the right steps towards achieving it. Taking the right step means starting today, not wasting time and setting realistic and achievable success declaration points. In those success declaration points you have defined success realistically; you work diligently at achieving them and take stock as you celebrate each.

Bringing it now to project management, we find that the objective of a project is often the big moment things. The implemented software, the operational building, the trained workers. These big moment things needs to follow smaller and realistic success declaration points. Do not wait to celebrate at the end of the project, but decide today to take the first step towards a project life cycle that is built for celebrating success…and stop wasting time, get to it today.

Written by Lizette Venter August 2019

Uncomplicated Leadership

As project managers we are called not only to manage the scope, costs, quality and various other knowledge areas prescribed by so many PM methodologies, but also called to lead. Leadership can be one of those concepts that we work hard at achieving but sometimes totally miss the mark on. Understanding leadership related to really understanding not only the dictionary version of the word leadership, but also what it aims to achieve. According to John Maxwell, leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. It relates to creating and facilitating movement from where we are to where we need to be. This is not achieved through a position being held, or through instilling fear in those that need to move, but by creating a compelling desire to move. And if the leader has that desire, the rest of his team can have it to.

The theme song of the movie Madagascar is so contagious. I caught myself singing and tapping to “I like to move it move it, I like to move it” phrase every time it plays. The energy and passion created around the song will get everybody going.  King Julian managed to get everybody shaking and dancing to his tune even the new comers.


This is a simple illustration, but I do believe that leadership is not so complicated. It requires a solid character entrenched with integrity. It requires enough passion and energy and good articulation of the vision to influence the team towards developing the desire to move in the same direction.

Influence however is not the same as manipulation. When we manipulate people, we often to so to achieve our personal goals at ALL costs and leave those we have manipulated feeling cheated and done in. When we influence however we work together to achieve a common ALLIGNED goal that we all feel good about when we have achieved success. Influence would never happen at the intentional detriment of others. The key lies in your intention or motive behind your persuasion of others.  

So as a project manager I need to understand the vision of my project, have the ability to share and sell it to the project team and put lots of passion and energy behind it so that they can follow suite. Simple right?