Leadership Essentials For PMPs – Part 2 of 3

By Michael O’Brochta, PMP

President, Zozer Inc.



The journey to project management excellence continues beyond earning a Project Management Professional (PMP) to include practicing project leadership. However, even highly skilled PMPs find success limited until they can sift through the bewildering amount of leadership information and identify actions essential for them at this point in their careers.

This is a how-to series of articles. The articles describe how PMP-level project managers can take specific leadership actions that will contribute to project success. The articles define project leadership, draw from the large body of PMI-sponsored and related project leadership research, describe the leadership role in high performance teams, give emphasis to sources of power for project leaders, and provide methods for project leaders to amplify their power. A list of specific project leader actions is included. A central theme is that PMP-level project managers can become successful project leaders by taking the actions identified.

Good News

We have seen that the role of the project leader increases in importance as the project complexity increases. But what is the role of the project leader? What is the project leader’s primary responsibility? In a notable new book about the leadership principles for project success by Thomas Juli, titled Leadership Principles for Project Success the author’s message to the project leader about his/her role is that “you have to ignite this fire of performance and you have to set boundaries within the team for it to function.” In an equally notable, recently published book by Camper Bull titled Moving from Project Management to Project Leadership the author makes a similar point about the project leaders role by stating, “leaders must be able to demonstrate to their teams why they should be committed…best ways leaders can get commitment from their followers is by demonstrating a high level of commitment themselves.”

Now, the question arises about how leadership can be practiced in the context of project management. The good news is that PMI and others have published some significant work relating projects and project leadership. I have examined this body of work and extracted the leadership essentials for PMPs. I feel the following project leadership practices are key for PMP-level project managers looking to take their performance to the next level.


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About the Author

Michael O’Brochta, PMP


Michael O’Brochta, who has managed hundreds of projects during the past thirty years, is also an experienced line manager, author, lecturer, trainer and consultant. He holds a master’s degree in project management, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and is certified as a PMP. As Zozer Inc. President, he is helping organizations raise their level of project management performance. As senior project manager at the Central Intelligence Agency, he led the project management and systems engineering training and certification program to mature practices agency-wide. Mr. O’Brochta’s other recent work includes leading the development of standards and courses for the new U.S. Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers. He serves at the PMI corporate level on the Ethics Management Advisory Group and at the chapter level where he built and led the international PMIWDC Chapter-to-Chapter program; he is a graduate of the Leadership Institute Mater Class. Mr. O’Brochta has written and presented papers at every PMI North American Global Congress during the past decade as well as at many international, and regional conferences. Topics that he is currently passionate about include how to get executives to act for project success and great project managers. Since his recent climb of another of the world’s seven summits, he has been exploring the relationship between project management and mountain climbing.  He can be contacted at [email protected].