The chapter begins with a comparison of the terms leader
The discussion lists many attributes in section 5.1.2 that are supposed
to apply to proven leaders, but they seem to apply to skillful managers
just as well. A distinction that may be useful is presented in section
5.1.3, stating that a leader does the
right things, and a manager does
things right, which is not grammatically correct, but it is dramatic.
It might be useful at this point to note that project leader and project
manager are not separate roles. It is probably best to say that a manager
who shows leadership is a better manager than one who does not.
The text presents some bullet points on pages 174 and 175 about leadership
and managership (if that is a real word). At the risk of alienating readers
who do not care for Star Trek, you may want to ask yourself what classic
role you fit. Are you more like Kirk
(leader) or Spock (manager)? Are you more like Picard (leader) or
Riker (manager)? Or are you someone who rises to a leadership role when
the situation calls for your kind of leadership? We can discuss other
examples online and in class. The point that I think matters is that a
person should be able to be more than one thing at different points in
a career. You should not be stuck with a label that you received based
on behaviors and skills that you can change.
The text makes additional points about leadership on the following pages,
contrasting what some experienced project managers observed about good
and bad leaders on pages 176 and 177. It then adds another concept on
page 177, that leadership requires honesty
and integrity. These are hard
to measure, but they stand out when they are seen. Allow me to offer the
conviction of Captain Picard, that the
first duty of any officer is to the truth. The text agrees that people
will not follow "leaders" who have reputations that do not include honesty
On page 178, the text lists three aspects of leadership that are supposedly endorsed by some military authority. (The text could use a few footnotes.) They could be seen in another way:
The points discussed on pages 178 and 179 add attributes of leaders that staff should expect to see. They include coaching from the leader, which is discussed in more detail in the pages that follow. Note the list of characteristics at the top of page 179, which summarizes this section.
The sidebar on page 180 adds the four concepts above, stating that leadership is composed of purpose, direction, motivation, and coaching. The text seems to say that a leader has the first three elements, and delivers all four to others.
After a few more pages of qualities one hopes to find in leaders, the text turns to more detail on coaching on page 184. The text seems to say that coaching is behavior modification: we want to reinforce good behaviors while we extinguish bad behaviors. The text tells us that we must set expectations about the desired behaviors we want to see in our team members, then praise good or improved behaviors, and take action to correct unapproved behaviors. This corrective action may be counseling, training, constructive criticism, or other actions. The examples of criticism on page 187 remind me of training sessions I have attended about disciplining staff.
On page 188, the text lists four objectives that a project leader (or any manager) should pursue when seeking to develop staff:
On the bottom of page 188, the text begins a list of key characteristics of effective coaching.
On page 190, the text begins a discussion about managing conflict in projects. This section does not offer the detail that the previous section does. After the discussion about coaching, the reader might assume that the text is about to tell us how to manage personal conflicts. In fact, only part of the discussion is about that. Let's consider some of the points:
The text has an interesting aside on page 193 that tells us that consensus may not mean what those who attain it think it means. Consensus is defined as agreement, but the text points out that it may actually mean something else:
On page 194, we see a list of methods that might be used as techniques to avoid or resolve conflict. The author has a problem with all but the last one:
After struggling with the term for many pages, the text tells us on page 195 that there are over a hundred definitions of leadership, and thousands of studies and articles on it. On page 196, the text offers a list characteristics of leaders. Unfortunately, the list leaves me a bit cold. The list could just as easily be a list of features of politicians. Some of the characteristics fit rock stars, some fit movie stars. What makes a person a leader? Since the text is not helpful, let's have a discussion about it this week.
The text may be more helpful on the next couple of pages, explaining that leaders provide a vision, and managers provide a means to attain it. Leaders tend to operate at the strategic level, while managers tend to operate at the tactical or operational level. The problem with all this discussion is that you should agree with the text when it finally notices that a project manager may need to be a lead and a manager, at the same time or at different times. They are not necessarily different roles in a project or in a company.
Let's move ahead to page 200. The text begins a discussing of professional development for a project manager. We are given a list of five skill areas, each of which comes with a set of diagnostic questions. The questions are meant to determine whether a project manager is performing well in this area, and to point in the direction of improvement if there are problems.
On page 203, we are told about four management areas that a project manager should know something about:
The diagnostic questions for these four areas are similar to those for the skill areas above. The project manager is expected to show competence in each kind of management.
On the next three pages, the text revisits the project manager's attitude. We are reminded to have and show enthusiasm for the project, a positive attitude about the results we are going to deliver, and a focus on the job that will move staff forward to complete each work unit.
Page 207 presents a list of twelve principles for a project manager that apply to many of the previous pages. There is no new information here, only a review.
The text moves on to a section about motivation, although it is not clear what the point of this section is. On page 208, we are introduced to Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who introduced Maslow's Hierarchy, a theory that people do not attain certain levels of development unless they first attain levels that support those higher levels.
For example, as depicted in the image above, a person has to meet basic physiological needs before meeting the needs of safety, which then enable the person to seek the level of love and belonging. The text groups the first two levels of the hierarchy as primary needs, and the other levels above them as secondary needs. One of Maslow's points was that you have to build each new layer of the pyramid after successfully building the previous layers. This is an interesting theory and it may help many of us to realize that we have to build ourselves up to the level of being a creative, moral, accepting, self-actualized person. It is unclear how the text thinks we are supposed to use this when we try to motivate staff to perform better in a project.
We turn the page and find a reference to Douglas McGregor, who wrote about Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X says that people avoid work and will not do much unless there is a threat of punishment for not doing it. Theory Y says that people will show that they are good and will do good work if they are rewarded for doing so. What the text seems to say about McGregor's theories is best seen in the bullets at the bottom of page 210, which appear to be part of the discussion of Theory Y. They are not: they apply to the composite of the two theories. Let's examine them:
In the Wikipedia article on McGregor, we learn that he was
disappointed that people assumed that he was proposing that Theory Y is
right and Theory X is wrong. He may have meant for us to realize that
our expectations affect how people act toward us, not that there is a
universal way people act.
The chapter ends with some material on making decisions, which resembles the process that is used in developing a project. There is little new here.