More Leadership. Less Management.

Why do so many projects continue to fail? An important aspect is the increased complexity of projects and the environments in which they are undertaken.

Many factors contribute to this growing complexity — social and technological change, growing global interdependence, increasing numbers of stakeholders and the need to communicate and coordinate cross-culturally.

Traditionally, a good project manager was someone who was logical and rational and effective at dealing with events, tasks and processes. It was someone who would work to the client’s brief and use his or her authority to deliver the desired outputs.

Often, this type of project manager would study best practices and company procedures so that the individual could play by the rules and ensure that the standards were upheld.

But this approach no longer works.

Or as one executive put it.

“If a project manager just follows orders he is not much use to me.”

Building high-performing teams, creating great relationships and ensuring that the project actually delivers what the customer needs cannot be achieved solely through logic.

It requires creativity, empathy, risk-taking, vision and, most importantly, the ability to connect with people at a very personal level.

It requires leadership.

Managers work to get their employees to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper.

Leaders, on the other hand, know where they’d like to go, but understand that they can’t get there without their team, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen.

Managers want authority. Leaders take responsibility.

We need both. But we have to be careful not to confuse them.

Leadership is not attained through a job title but through a continuous journey of introspection, observation, and development.

In a nutshell: We need more leadership and less management.

Originally published at

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I help C-level executives in the financial service industry with interim management and recovering troubled technology projects.

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