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What is Personal Leadership?

Personal Leadership is all about leadership for yourself.

When we talk about leadership in project management – we’re nearly always talking about leading others – but we also have a responsibility to ourselves – both for our careers and in life.

So when we think about personal leadership in relation to our career in project management – what are we really talking about?

Here are some areas to consider, taking in different levels as we move through our career in project management:

Level One

In the early stages of your career it’s about understanding what your values and behaviours are and how these are used or observed in the workplace.

You’ll demonstrate and maintain high standards of honesty, confidentiality and ethical conduct in all your personal and business work.

You’ll also be actively questioning and sharing good practice – you’ll see activities as an opportunity to develop and learn.

And you’ll be open to feedback from others – to help you along the way. Perhaps seeking out a mentor to help accelerate development.

You’ll be able to articulate your career goals and pull together plans that help you achieve these goals.

And you’ll set other individual goals and want to exceed your own expectations and those of others around you.

Personal Leadership

Level Two

Moving on further in your career, personal leadership will include more creativity.

You’ll independently introduce new ideas and solutions to problems – and take independent action to solve them.

By this stage you’ll be leading a team too – having a clear idea about how to motivate and get the best out of people.

You’ll also be expected to perhaps represent your firm externally too – adapting behaviours with approaches that work with different clients and organisations.

You will also be building relationships outside the normal sphere of day-to-day work too – developing relationships with experts and peers – and taking part in professional meetings

Level Three

Level three is all about the ability to serve as a mentor or coach others – and to develop a learning culture around who and what you do.

You’ll assume responsibility for getting things done, overcoming obstacles and meeting commitments – analysing situations and making decisions based on expertise and professional judgement.

You’ll be in control of your own destiny in work – making success happen for yourself rather than waiting to be recognised and rewarded.

You’ll project a positive, self-confident image at work – have gravitas – or make others feel comfortable or even better about themselves.

And you’ll be leading for results and success by conveying a sense of urgency. You’ll actively drive issues to closure, persist despite obstacles and opposition and set high standards of performance.

Coaching

Level Four

Level four is about setting direction and providing leadership – and you’ll be creating and developing teams too.

Here you’re using business experience and judgement when making decisions in increasingly risky or complex situations. Knowing when to cut your losses or take well conceived risks.

You’ll create an environment or culture where failure is not punished but viewed as a learning experience.

You’ll also have a well-developed network – both internally and externally to work – perhaps even playing a leadership role in a professional group.

Level Five

Is all about using your seniority – that experience, knowledge, behaviours, styles and habits gained over the years to network with other senior executives – not just within your own domain or industry sector but in others too.

You’re a role model when it comes to people seeking help and guidance – and you recognise and acknowledge the achievements of others.

Leadership in Project Management

These are just some of the areas to think about in terms of your own personal leadership development throughout your career, after all, if the role of the Project Manager includes leadership capabilities, it makes sense that you yourself are actively thinking about what leadership means to you personally.

The other call to action here is – as project practitioners should we include personal leadership development as a core competency – just like we do technical project management skills – or relational skills? Personally I think so!

Why not leave your comments about what personal leadership means to you – and what you’ve done which has helped your career so far?

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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott
Lindsay Scott is Director of PMO Learning, the PMO training specialist and Arras People the programme and project management recruitment specialists. Lindsay is the project management careers columnist for PMI's Network magazine and co-editor of the Gower Handbook of People in Project Management. Lindsay created and hosts The PMO Conference and hosts the monthly PMO Flashmobs

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