Five Transitions for Effective Project Leadership


At some point in their career, senior leaders of complex or major projects will feel or have felt ‘in over their heads’. The onslaught of challenges that such projects bring can be relentless and push the limits of anyone, both intellectually and emotionally. When this occurs, adding new skills to your toolbox may not be enough: you need a bigger toolbox.

The work of the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership over the last five years with senior project leaders as part of their Executive Leadership in Major Projects program suggests that ‘getting a bigger toolbox’ is about expanding your cognitive and emotional capacity to deal with tough project challenges. This may require a shift in the way you look at yourself and the world you live in, and can have a significant impact on your effectiveness as a project leader of major or complex projects.

Researchers identified five transitions that show if such a shift has occurred or is occurring, and argue that enabling and supporting this sort of shift requires a very different approach to leadership development than the usual skill development approach.

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