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A Short Comment About Project Leadership
By Phil de Kock

If one refers to leadership, it needs to be done against the background of the nature of modern organizations and society. It is becoming increasingly clear that in order to cope with the demands of increased competition, rapid change and fundamental shifts in organizations, community and societal configurations, the hierarchical way of organizing does not yield the efficiencies for which it was once so sought after. Increasingly one of the preferred ways to organize is through projects. The benefits are numerous, including creating rigor, focusing resources, while at the same time having the ability to be flexible and making trade-offs for the right reasons.

Within this environment projects can make a difference, but requires leadership, to effect the required changes, at organizational, attitudinal and behavioral level.

What then constitute good project leadership? In essence it is about the ability to influence and create the right psychosocial climate for performance and delivery. In this sense it does not differ from leadership in general, albeit that the context might differ.

The difference with management and also project management is however more specific. As indicated in the PMBOK, management refers to the processes of planning, executing and control, while project management point to the processes of initiating, planning, executing, as well as closing and control. The place of effective leadership, in both general and project management, is that it provides the right social dynamic through which management can deliver. It ensures that the “hearts and minds” of all role players are such that it is conducive to optimal goal achievement and delivery.

Phil de Kock is an organization and management consultant with a career span of more than 20 years in several disciplines, including finance and admin, quality, project management as well as human and organization development.

His career development from a very junior level as a finance cashier to managing partner of a medium sized consulting firm is backed by sound growth and development at an academic level. Philip consequently has obtained a masters degree in people and organization development and is currently reading for his PhD. He is the co author of several publications and received awards for his post graduate academic achievements.

In addition to being visiting lecturer in project management he also trained more than 250 students in the relevant discipline during 2006/7. In addition, he published about and presented public courses dealing with ROI of Training, HR Scorecards, and Metrics as well as Job and Competency Profiling.

He consulted to various companies, including Namdeb (De Beers Namibia), Deb Marine, Anglo Base Metals (Skorpion Zinc) as well as public sector organization such as the Health Professions and Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Council. His most recent work include lecturing on project management, leadership and Human Resources Management at the institutions that include the Centre for Learning, Training and Development (WITS University), Varsity College (ADVTECH Group Ltd) and Global Business School.

Phil runs a professional project management blog: Project Management For The Rest of Us.

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