Project Practitioners > Qualities of Effective Leaders

Qualities of Effective Leaders

By Randy Englund

Picture1Participants in a course on “Management, Leadership, and Team Building in the Project Environment” were recently challenged to post an essay about a leadership quality or qualities that they have admired or found particularly effective in a leader. That leader may be themselves, a manager they've worked with, a public figure, someone they've studied, or anyone else.  Instructions are to identify the quality, describe how it became manifest or implemented (in other words, tell a story), and share what effect it had on them.

The intent of this activity is to reflect on influential people in our lives and share the multitude of ways that we lead each other…and to practice story telling as a leadership tool.  This reflective exercise helps to highlight learnings from people’s own as well as other people’s experiences and to dramatically see how each of us is influenced by others, in various ways.  It then becomes possible to extrapolate on how we will be able to influence and lead others.

Mark provided this stunning example, writing about integrity and humblenessI met this senior manager for a general contracting company after getting hired on and knew when I came down to his office to meet him that this man was different than any other that I had met in the work place before. His name is Scott and he is a man of faith who demonstrated to all that we were to operate with integrity and that he would lead by example. We were working on a theme park, more specifically a themed land for a client that sets the bar for theme parks. He wanted to make sure that as team members on a $150 million dollar project that we were not going to stress out as this was a project of a life-time, and he wanted us to have fun while doing it.

The integrity side soon showed itself when change orders started coming in and increasing. Scott as the Senior Project Manager for the project had to reel in some of his project managers as questionable pricing on change orders emerged. Scott told the managers that were brought in for this type of pricing that he would not accept this kind of practice and would review going forward the change orders that were to be submitted to the client. I am not aware if the client ever heard of this particular situation.

It was later after this project that I learned that the company owners operated with integrity, too. Several years later, the client awarded the same company that I worked for to manage other contractors for a $500 million project as construction managers representing their interest–integrity at work. Integrity showed through not only to us as team members, but also to the client. I benefitted from this by seeing an example of integrity in action and to remember not only my own faith teachings, but to live a life with integrity that does not have limitations when you go to work.

Dan offered a response to Mark’s message:  I like the example where your manager wanted everyone to have fun working on a project instead of getting stressed out. It reminded me of a manager I used to work for who told the entire group that "I want you to have fun, whoever doesn't have fun, make sure you come and see me!" I think that it is very important to have fun and enjoy what you are doing. It makes your day a lot shorter.

I resonate with these messages because authenticity and integrity are key ingredients for leadership effectiveness.  They are the glue that holds the pieces of the puzzle together in my book on Creating an Environment for Successful Projects.  I also believe that leadership examples are all around, and within, us.  Our lives are richer when we take the time to reflect on the blessings bestowed on us by the wonderful leaders who come into our lives and make us better people.  Of course, we can also learn from the bad examples about what not to do.  Taking the time and effort to tell these stories is a great way to share the wealth.

Randy Englund, Englund Project Management Consultancy,

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