Project Management Leadership Secret: Learning to Share

July 28, 2014 Marcus Varner

EDW_Photo_Small_400x400We recently reached out to 40 top Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) professionals and asked them to respond to the following prompt:

"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 Dr. Ed Wallington, a project management advocate at edwallington.com.


One aspect that enables an enterprise to work efficiently is the ability to access up-to-date information in a timely manner. Many enterprises may have good data, but because they are working in silos (either because of structure or culture), these data are not available to end-users when they require it. There is a general recognition and emphasis on creating a "single source of the truth" that staff and stakeholders can access as appropriate. This requires an enterprise-wide change in working practice and culture—the ability to share.

Enabling change on an enterprise scale requires buy-in from a wide range of staff, from directors to operational delivery teams. The technical aspects of this type of project are relatively well known, understood, and achievable; the main effort is understanding and articulating the benefits and cultural change required and making the change happen. The project manager (PM) in this instance must not only focus on the core project deliverable—a system to enable secure data storage and sharing—but also on the organization's buy-in and implementation, which requires the ability to articulate the long-term benefits (having a clear view of what success looks like) and using negotiation and persuasion skills to make it happen at all levels of staff.

This type of project can easily lose steam without senior executive buy-in and support. You will face a lot of push back when mobilizing cultural change, so communication is key. A PM is comfortable communicating at a project delivery level, but this is not always the case when engaging senior executives. A different tack is required, one focusing not on the technical detail, but on reinforcing why the project is being done, what is required to affect change, and what the impact is on the executives and their teams. There is a need to personally tailor the benefits and impact to each executive and explain it to them regularly. Go out on a limb, buy them a coffee, and have a chat. Regular personal engagement is important and effective.

3 Key Lessons Learned

  1. To work efficiently, an enterprise must be able to access up-to-date information in a timely manner.
  2. Enabling change on an enterprise scale requires buy-in from a wide range of staff.
  3. The PM must not only focus on the core project deliverable but also on the organization's buy-in and implementation.

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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