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Project Leadership Integration

Disaster loomed. No one knew the full scope of the software deployment project, and no one would admit their ignorance. There was no budget, just a rough-order-of-magnitude cost estimate. There was no schedule, just something that resembled a high-level project roadmap. The project team worked frantically, like bees in a hive. One worker bee, Tom, was responsible for configuring the hardware security module to provide the encryption solution, but he was having trouble. “I can’t figure this out,” he thought, “but I doubt those idiots on the testing team will realize it’s not fully operational until after I start my new job.” Tom did not tell anyone he was struggling, and no one asked how he was doing, not even the project manager. Tom did not mention the problem or his plans to resign.

Independently, the team members created many artifacts, but unlike bees, together they produced nothing useful. The project sponsor reluctantly told the steering committee the project was on track and that the setbacks were minor. He sensed the project manager’s fear, but he did not know how to address it. He did not realize the high level of discord among the project team members—discord that was not registered in the risk log and that impeded their efforts to deliver a secure, high-quality solution.

Project managers frequently face this type of chaos. Situations like this require not only adherence to project management best practices, but also leadership to standardize, educate, promote, and enforce best practices. A project leader is responsible for bringing order to chaos, leading the introduction of structure, and adhering to structure. A successful project leader observes and evaluates chaotic situations; develops a vision of harmony, cooperation, and project achievement; and then sets out on a mission to influence and lead people out of the chaos and into effective performance. Project management standards such as the Project Management Institute (PMI®)’s Project Management Body of Knowledge

(PMBOK®), the American Academy of Project Management project management standards, and the standard that supports CompTIA’s Project+ certification are all excellent sources of structure for IT projects, but leadership is required for these standards to be effective within organizations. Leadership is required to confront and address stakeholder and team member resistance, negative attitudes, and hidden agendas.

 
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