Project Management Leadership Secret: Build Trust One Project at a Time

October 20, 2014 Marcus Varner

PPM software

We recently reached out to 40 top Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) professionals and asked them the following question: "Please share a remarkable leadership secret that had a major impact on an enterprise project you have managed. Please tell the story and the results that you achieved."

Today we highlight the response of Naomi Caietti, founder and CEO of TheGlassBreakers.

A current trend is to highlight increased engagement of project managers (PM's) to help drive strategic initiatives. Organizations need to be more agile, customer focused, and innovative to stay competitive in the global marketplace. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work as a PM and systems engineer on one of the largest Medicaid data warehouse projects in the United States. The project was complex; highly visible; and had multiple stakeholders, virtual teams, and remote data centers of excellence. The U.S. Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) had an urgent need to implement and deliver 21st century business intelligence (BI) system. Stakeholder engagement was the key to producing results and positive outcomes for this project.

What key leadership tenet did I use? Swift trust. PM's and program managers live this every day: Agility is important for developing swift trust with teams, sponsors, C-level executives, and stakeholders. Swift trust occurs when a diverse group is brought together in a temporary organization, such as a project office or virtual team created for an urgent project.

As a leader, you must earn trust quickly to influence key stakeholders. Everyone will start with little or some knowledge to gauge trust among the team. You must demonstrate that you can be trusted and trustworthy. Team members must also demonstrate their integrity and ability to be accountable, thus earning trust within the group and from the leader. Why is this skill set important? According to recent Project Management Institute research, building trust is a key trait that successful PM's and program managers share.

Results and Outcomes

The BI solution went live on March 29, 2008, and that solution for DHCS is still in production today. The project was designed to help more efficiently manage California's $38 billion Medicaid program (known as Medi-Cal), save money for California taxpayers, and improve healthcare services for millions of California residents. It is the largest Medicaid data warehouse in the nation.

3 Key Lessons Learned:

  1. Agility is important for developing swift trust with teams, sponsors, C-level executives, and stakeholders.

  2. You must learn trust quickly to influence key stakeholders.

To read more project management secrets, download the complete Lessons from 40 PPM Experts on Making the Transition from Project Management to Project Leadership eBook.

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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