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Episode 207: The Leadership Attitude (Free)

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Episode 207: The Leadership Attitude (Free)I came across an article titled The Leadership Attitude [Update: the template website is no longer available, so we removed the link] written by Elizabeth Harrin. I liked what she had to say. In this article she boiled leadership down to 4 main pillars:

  • Openness
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Integrity

In our interview today I meet up with her to discuss the article in more detail. We look at the difference between management and leadership, how to be a manager and leader at the same time, and what these 4 pillars mean to her.

Episode Transcript

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

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #207. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.

I came across an article titled “The Leadership Attitude” [Update: the template website is no longer available, so we removed the link] written by Elizabeth Harrin. I liked what she had to say. In this article, she boiled leadership down to four main pillars: Openness, Honesty, Trust and Integrity.

In our interview today, I meet up with her to discuss the article in more detail. We look at the difference between management and leadership, how you can be a manager and leader at the same time, and what these four pillars mean to her.

And now, please lead the way by enjoying the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Elizabeth Harrin, author, blogger and speaker.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Elizabeth! Welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™.

Elizabeth Harrin: Hello, Cornelius! Thank you for having me back.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes, so it has been another year, another PMI Global Congress here in North America.

Elizabeth Harrin: Yes.

Cornelius Fichtner: I think the only difference is we’re sitting right in the thick of things and the last 2 years that we have done our interview here at the congress; we were in the Exhibition Hall, right?

Elizabeth Harrin: Yes. Don’t you think that this building though is slightly smaller than the others?

Cornelius Fichtner: I actually thought it was bigger!

Elizabeth Harrin: Oh, I don’t think there is as much space…

Cornelius Fichtner: Oh really?

Elizabeth Harrin: …for this kind of thing. Hence, that’s why we’re in the middle of everything here.

Cornelius Fichtner: It shows you what kind of an impression.

Elizabeth Harrin: That’s just a thought.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright, two people do two different opinions of this thing. Wow! Okay, so what’s going to happen is since we’re sitting in the middle of things and since it’s about 5 minutes until the presentations will end, in about 5 minutes, the background noise will rise terribly and we’re probably going to have the pause button and wait for a few minutes for 3,000 people to walk pass us to go and have lunch. Everyone’s hungry.

So we want to talk about leadership this afternoon. And in one of your articles, you started out with the old saying which is “Management means doing things right, yet leadership means doing the right things.” Do you agree with that statement or not?

Elizabeth Harrin: I do agree with that statement. I think that in terms of being able to manage something, it’s much more around the right people doing the right thing getting the task done. Whereas leadership is much more around vision.

Difficulty comes I think in that, as project managers, we end up doing both things. You don’t have a project manager and a project leader and I think the movement recently I’ve been seeing in the sort of research, what people are writing and the thoughts that are coming out of events like this is that we’re moving towards a model of project leadership. But we still need to be able to manage. We still need to be able to get things done. So it’s how do you put both of those management and leadership things together so that both those statements are right and at the same time.

Cornelius Fichtner: One of the gentlemen that we had here on the Podcast in the leadership series was Thomas Juli who happens to be here as well and if he walks by right now, I’ll grab him. No, he’s nowhere to be seen.

In his book “Leadership Principles of Project Success” he talks about five principles of effective project leadership. Here they are: (1) Build a common vision with shared goals; (2) Nurture collaboration with the team; (3) Create an environment that promotes performance; (4) Cultivate learning, creativity and innovation; and (5) Ensure results. Okay, five principles, what are your thoughts on these?

Elizabeth Harrin: I think they are good principles. I’ve read his book. I’ve spoken to him in person about his ideas. I’ve listened to him talk. So there’s nothing wrong with those principles of effective project leadership at all. And I think that project managers who are excellent at preparing plans, reporting progress could learn a lot from adapting those kinds of principles around sharing goals with a common vision in mind making sure that they nurture collaboration within the team. That’s the leadership side of getting a project done.

So he talks about creating an environment that promotes performance. We need to be thinking about doing that because it’s not just all about having a risk clock following a process. If you follow a project management methodology whichever one your company chooses to use doesn’t guarantee project success. Whereas, if you try to cultivate an environment where learning is considered good, where there is creativity, where there is innovation that does move you more in a direction of being able to get the results that you want. But I would say that there are other things that project managers should consider when they’re looking for models of leadership and I think project leadership is more than just these five points that he has raised there.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. So if it’s more than just these five points, does it mean that if I want to be a project leader, you know, I adapt these five points, I add a few more on top of that, other principles or is it something else?

Elizabeth Harrin: Start with adapting those five points.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay.

Elizabeth Harrin: But they still read of it like a process, don’t they? Shall I take it off. I’ve built a common vision. I’ve measured collaboration.  I’ve created an environment that promotes performance and the others. But I think from my personal experience, leadership is more of an attitude. It’s something that you bring to the table as an individual. It’s not about checking the books to say you’ve done some team meetings and make sure everyone is on the same page as you. It’s more around how you act, how you behave and how you instill those behaviors in other people.

Cornelius Fichtner: So what is your leadership attitude?

Elizabeth Harrin: My leadership attitude I suppose is summed up by four things: Openness, Honesty, Trustworthiness and Acting with Integrity.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! Let’s take a look at these four all together. What does openness mean? What does being open mean?

Elizabeth Harrin: Well, I’ve just been in to a presentation where we’ve talked briefly around the fact that knowledge is not power and that we should share as much as possible. And I think openness really is around that being able to share as much information as is in your gift to do so.

There will be bits of information as a project manager or as a project leader that perhaps you’re not able to share, it might be around recruitment decisions or bits of corporate strategy that haven’t yet been probably finalized. But they’re in the minority. I think the majority of things that we know on our projects, we can tell other people and having the openness to have open discussions with people around what’s going on and what their role in that is helps them see the bigger picture. So it makes sure that they can see how their contribution makes a difference.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. Second was honesty. So what does being honest mean without mentioning the PMI Code of Ethics?

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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