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Episode 180 Premium: Leadership & Project Initiation (Project Leadership Series)

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Episode 180 Premium: Leadership & Project Initiation (Project Leadership Series)We are continuing The PM Podcast Leadership Series. This is the 2nd interview that I did with Thomas Juli ( and, author of “Leadership Principles for Project Success”. Last week, we learned about his 5 principles and how they work. But wouldn’t it be more interesting if he also told you HOW you actually implement these principles on your project? That’s what we’ll do in this interview.

The problem is of course, that we cannot go through a complete project implementation process and discuss all those leadership principles in a 20 minute interview. That’s why we decided to focus just on initiating a project.

Of course, we are also doing a book giveaway and we have 2 copies of Thomas’s book. As always: 1 copy is reserved for our premium listeners and one copy is raffled off via our facebook fan page. So go to, find the post with Thomas Juli’s book giveaway and leave a comment to participate in the giveaway.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: This is The Project Management Podcast™. We bring project management to beginners and experts. Find us on the web at‑ or send your emails to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to this Premium Episode #180. I am Cornelius Fichtner and this is The Project Management Podcast™, nice to have you with us.

This is a premium episode. This means that only our premium subscribers, you, have access to it. And that makes me very thankful to you because you are supporting us financially.

By the way, did you know that along with your premium subscription, you get a transcript of our episodes starting at episode #136? So if there are any particular interviews that you would like to read up on, just double click on the PDF transcript file in the software that you use to download the podcast. It opens up and you can read it.

We are continuing The Project Management Podcast Leadership Series today as well. This is the second interview that I did with Thomas Juli, author of “Leadership Principles for Project Success”. If you remember last week, we learned about his 5 principles and how they work. But wouldn’t it be much more interesting if Thomas told you how you actually implement these principles on your project? Well, that’s what we’re doing in the upcoming interview.

The problem is of course, that we cannot go through a complete project implementation cycle and discuss all those leadership principles in a 20, 30‑minute interview. That’s why we decided to focus just on initiating a project.

Don’t forget that we continue to give away Thomas’s book and that we will draw a winner soon. Because you are a premium subscriber, well you are automatically entered into the drawing for one of the 2 copies. If you want to double your chances, stop by at, look for the book giveaway for Thomas Juli’s book and simply leave a comment there.

And now, let’s initiate some leadership in you all. Enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Thomas Juli, author, speaker and consultant.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hallo Thomas. Und willkommen nochmals beim Project Management Podcast!

Thomas Juli: Hallo. Ich freue mich wieder zurueck zu sein.

Cornelius Fichtner: Well, in our first interview, we looked at the 5 leadership principles from your book and then we briefly talked about the leadership pyramid.

In this interview today, we want to take it one step further. We want to learn how to implement your principles, much more interesting than just to talk about them. But we won’t have the time to go through a complete implementation process obviously so you and I decided before we started the interview that we are going to focus on the project initiation and setup.

But first, before we go into that, let’s talk about what you call ‘power exercises’. Why do you have power exercises in your book?

Thomas Juli: Well, these exercises are basically returning exercises you can use in every project phase. There are actually 3 power exercises and I’ve just developed them over the number of years and I found out that they are actually very simple but also very effective and I really wanted to share this with the reader that’s why I called it power exercises. They are very powerful as you will find out.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! So you mentioned there are 3 of them. Let’s take a look at each of them. It starts out with Guided Brainstorming.

Thomas Juli: Yes! Well, most of us know what brainstorming is all about. There are some caveats with brainstorming and it starts with a facilitator. Because if you do a really good brainstorming session, you have to be a master writing on the all notes, all the ideas people are sharing and it can easily end up in chaos because like you have, say, a whiteboard and you don’t know where to write things because there’s no more space. So what I’m proposing is that you do a guided brainstorming session. And the way it works is the following:

You head out cards to the people in the room and then you ask them to write on their ideas on these cards. One card, one idea; or one  problem or one question, really depends on the topic you want to cover. And then you give them let’s say 2 to 3 minutes and you only give them let’s say a limited number of cards so they actually have to prioritize what they want to talk, what they want to share with the other people. Then let’s say after 2, 3 or 4 or 5 minutes, you collect the cards then you read them out loud, you categorize them with the group and then you prioritize them. It sounds very simple and actually it is.

The thing is that let’s say when you have only 3 or 5 cards where you want to share your experience on a project say you are asked to say: what is it that you did not like about a project. You think well, it’s not much if I can only write down and say 5 thoughts or 5 things. Well when you have 10 people in the room, you may end up with 50 cards and that’s a lot. And people are really astonished when they see all the cards, see on the blackboard, whiteboard, what have you, and you categorize them, yes, there are some duplicates but still there is a huge amount of input you can collect within a few minutes and that’s really astonishing to quite a few people. And that’s what guided brainstorming is all about.

Cornelius Fichtner: The second power exercise is called Power Workshop: Breakout and Plenum. What is that all about?

Thomas Juli: Yes! Say you have a very big group of people, let’s say 20 people. When you have a group size this big, it is very difficult to conduct a workshop where everybody gets the chance to actively participate. So what you do is like, you divide the group into smaller breakout groups, let’s say 4 to 6 people in each group and then you ask them to split and then you say for 45 minutes or 1 hour, they talk about a very specific topic could be the same, could be different topic depending on the workshop character.

Then after this breakout, you ask each group to present the results to the whole audience. And you give them let’s say 2 to 5 minutes. Again you want to give them limited time. This makes them really focus on the results. And also this way, within say 1 hour, 2 hours, you get a lot of results whereas if you had stayed in the big group, you could only discuss one topic. Now, you have a chance to discuss 4 or 5 topics at the same time and it’s very effective.

Cornelius Fichtner: The last of your power exercises, everybody will have heard of, Questionnaires, but there has to be some kind of a twist.

Thomas Juli: Well, there’s not really much of a twist. It comes with preparation if let’s say you want to have a power workshop or you want to have a guided brainstorming, what you really want to do is you want to prepare the participants what to expect.

So say you have a list of questions you want to ask in the workshop where everybody else will be attending. But you actually you had all these questions beforehand and you give them a chance to answer these. You collect them and you also share the results with them before the workshop and then you still have a very good foundation for the workshop. It’s basically questionnaire, tell them what questions you will ask, what’s really on your mind and also once you have consolidated all the results, share the results with them. This helps build rapport at the very beginning of a project and this is very important.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So we have ‘guided brainstorming,’ and the ‘power workshops with breakouts and getting back together’ and last but not least, the ‘questionnaires’. How do you like to use these on your projects to lead your projects?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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