Successful Project Management Leadership in a Multigenerational Workplace


By Jamie B. Gelbtuch, MBA, PMP
Founder and Principal Consultant, Cultural Mixology
New York, USA


Conrado Morlan, PfMP, PgMP, PMP
Consulting Manager, Daugherty Business Solutions
North Texas, USA


The English writer George Orwell famously said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” The existence of five generations in today’s project management workplace can bring brilliant synergies and frustrations at the same time.  We continue to wrestle with typical project management work issues on a daily basis – timelines, quality control, cost issues, risk management.  Yet, we also find the need to develop additional leadership competencies as part of the PMI Talent Triangle. Managing multigenerational teams has come to the forefront of many discussions about organizational success as one of these competencies.

This paper will explain why “generational competence” is a critical added leadership skill in the Project Manager’s toolbox. By comparing generational cultures to national cultures, it will help project managers understand the key drivers that shape the five generations in today’s workplace and how those impact values and behaviors, particularly in the areas of leadership, time management and prioritization, and communication.  It will also identify how, why, and where generations may differ across cultures and suggest best practices for managing multigenerational project teams.


The rhythm of the workplace has changed. As people are living longer, and economic conditions are requiring many people to continue working past a traditional retirement age, companies often find that they have a team that has four generations working together.  This means four generalized sets of expectations, motivations, attitudes, behaviors, and communication styles.  On the receiving end, it’s four different sets of perceptions, and often misperceptions.  That’s a lot of complexity and we haven’t even considered the upcoming Generation Z, or the cultural differences among the Matures, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials that make up our current global project management environments.

The Skills of the Project Manager of the Future

Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification has been one of the premier certifications for the last 30 years. Initially, project management practitioners who acquired the certification primarily focused on mastering technical best practices in project management including requirements gathering techniques, project controls and scheduling, risk management and scope management.  The global business landscape, however, has since evolved.  As Mark. A. Langley, President and Chief Executive Officer of PMI said, “Against the backdrop of constant change, increasing complexity and technology advances, organizations are demanding leadership, strategic management and technical skill from their project managers – essentially turning them into project leaders” (Raconteur, 2014).

After several years of research and surveys of for profit, nonprofit, and governmental organizations, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has identified a set of employer-desired skills needed by project management professionals to lead projects, programs and portfolios that will enable organizations to achieve their strategic objectives. These skills, which are broken down into the areas of Technical Project Management, Strategic and Business Management, and Leadership make up the PMI Talent Triangle (See Exhibit 1).  The resulting project manager role is a high-level, strategic one that encompasses a much wider range of competencies than ever before.


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 2015 PMI Global Congress North America in Orlando, Florida. It is republished here with the authors’ permission.



About the Authors

Jamie B. Gelbtuch

New York, USA


As Founder and Principal Consultant of Cultural Mixology, Jamie B. Gelbtuch serves as a strategic thinking partner to support innovative companies and thought leaders that are faced with multicultural challenges. Through coaching, training, mentoring, and consulting, she looks for creative ways to help globally minded individuals, organizations, and teams increase cross-cultural effectiveness, manage the complexity, uncertainty, and challenge presented by living or working in an international environment, and reach their highest personal or professional potential in the process. Jamie can be contacted at [email protected].


Conrado Morlan

Texas, USA



Conrado Morlan
is an experienced global portfolio, program and project manager with more than 20 years of experience in aligning projects with organizational strategy for multinational companies and leading virtual and collocated multicultural and multigenerational teams in the Americas and Europe. Mr. Morlan was one of the first 150 individuals to achieve the PfMP credential worldwide and was the recipient of the PMI 2011 Distinguished Contribution Award for his activities and influence in championing project management to Spanish-speaking practitioners and organizations. His contributions to Project Management are numerous as he strives to increase the field’s visibility and advance the profession through conferences, blogs, articles, and interviews. One can also consider that his presence and its effects are multiplied by three, as his linguistic talents enable him to work across borders at equal levels of comfort in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Conrado can be contacted at [email protected]