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Project manager or project leader?

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As project managers, how do we move beyond simply(!) managing our projects and instead lead them with vision and innovation?

Faced with seemingly never ending deadlines for deliverables, reports and decisions that always seem to come around too quickly and take up all our time, are we focusing on the wrong things? These were just some of the themes explored at last week’s Women in Project Management SIG event “Project Management Leadership: Are we too busy with the urgent to focus on the important?”.

Susanne Madsen, project leadership coach and author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook, explained to delegates the differences between management and leadership and the types of attitudes we need to engender to reach the coveted title of leader. This lies in maximising our pro-active people management skills, and giving them as much importance as the technical task based competencies. Really partnering with our client or project sponsor is a key element of this. Fully understanding and embracing their vision so that we become their equals; challenging them and ultimately deliver not just what they want but what they need. Do you dare to take this step and stand out?

Understanding and building strong relationships with the project team, and prioritising these relationships was also recommended. Imagine if your project team members were all volunteers. What would they get out of doing the job? Use this question to really delve into what motivates them.

Finally, Susanne emphasised the importance of making the best use of time, whether this is by restricting yourself to checking email just a few times a day, fully focusing on one task at a time or coaching members of your project team to take on more responsibility – also helping them to grow in the process. Most importantly, taking time out for yourself, to pause, reflect and get away from your desk is vital. Accept that you cannot know it all or do it all.


The presentation followed the WiPM AGM where the committee members for 2014/15 were appointed. These are Alexa Briggs, Alison Whitehead, Anita Suji, Catherine Roche, Maura Launchbury and Teri Okoro.

We said farewell to Susie Boyce and Penny Pullen, previous WiPM chairs, with grateful thanks for many years of fantastic support to the SiG. There is certainly a lot for the committee and volunteers to get their teeth into during this our important 21st anniversary year.

Don't miss our main development and celebratory event on 25th September, where we will hear from many inspirational leaders, including keynote speakers Baroness Susan Greenfield and Dame Stephanie Shirley.

Will you be a leader of tomorrow?


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