Written by Jason Grimm, VP & General Manager – Southwest

It seems like a daily occurrence now that I see a LinkedIn post about the difference between being a Manager and being a Leader. Leaders are multipliers, leaders share credit and take blame, and leaders prop up everyone around them. Managers apparently, do the opposite. Not because they’re bad people or employees, but likely because they don’t know how to lead and they put too much importance behind policing others.

Since the beginning of my consulting career almost 15 year ago, I’ve had a distaste for “Project Managers”. I started my career as your garden-variety grunt in the IT consulting bullpen. From a manual tester to a business analyst to a process re-engineer, I did it all. Ultimately I grew to manage projects and programs and accounts. Throughout my journey, I learned from some of the best and worst project managers out there about project management. Now, because I’ve grown bold with the apparently widespread distaste for “Managers”, I’ll share my long-held belief: Projects don’t need Project Managers. Projects need Project Leaders. So how do we more effectively lead projects? Here’s my quick take:

  1. Prioritize – Never put the importance of status reports and project metrics ahead of your team and their obstacles. Of course they’re important, but not as important as getting things done.
  2. Own-up – Always take a large share of the blame for mistakes to deflect attention from an individual on your team. Be the lightening rod so that your team can stay unified and on target.
  3. Pitch-in – The best Project Leaders I’ve ever seen have been some of the most humble, they viewed their job not as above the team but as the utility player that would stand with the weakest link at any point of time and help them catch up.
  4. Give credit – Never miss a chance to thank a team member publicly and highlight their fantastic work. A team that feels valued and recognized is more effective.
  5. Remove obstacles – The single most important thing a project leader can do is to remove obstacles that get in the way of successful delivery.
  6. Always deliver – No project goes as planned or is without challenges. It’s the nature of the game. However, Project Leaders must relentlessly pursue a successful delivery. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is whether you found a win, very few points are awarded for style.

So, let’s get out of our project plans and stop changing fonts on the status report. Walk the halls, connect with people, and create so much drag behind you that others can’t help but follow.

About Jason Grimm:

Jason Grimm is the Vice President and General Manager- Southwest for Intersys and a career consultant with nearly 15 years of Management and IT consulting experience. Jason leads the Intersys team in the sale and delivery of Big Data, Analytics and Application Development services in Phoenix. He earned his MBA from Temple University and BS from The University of Arizona.

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