Is Project “Management”’‹ the Problem?

Some folks say that managers focus on doing things right, while leaders are focused on doing the right things.2 min

99 shares, 81 points

How do you define the difference between “management” and “leadership”?

Some folks say that managers focus on doing things right, while leaders are focused on doing the right things. And managers try to accomplish a goal with the resources at their disposal, while leaders go looking for new goals, and acquire new resources to support them.  Right? Right.

Well, we sure do hear a lot about project “management” these days, don’t we? Since projects have become so important in every facet of business, I think it’s great to see companies training people how to use project management tools and techniques. And certification programs, especially those from PMI, are now required for many project management jobs. And I think that’s great, too. Really.

But who leads projects? When, where, and how do we train executives to be successful as project leaders? Unfortunately, the answer is that most executives learn about project leadership the hard way, through experience. And in the words of folk singer Gamble Rogers, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you really wanted.”

That’s a shame, because project leadership is a discipline that can be taught. And the cost of learning through study is a bargain compared to the cost of learning through failure. For the student, and especially for their employer!

A leader is responsible for sponsoring projects that will deliver value for their organization. And the key to doing this consistently is to focus on six simple principles that are easy to remember using the acronym DIRECT:

  • Define the vision
  • Investigate the options
  • Resolve to a course of action
  • Execute the plan
  • Change the system and processes
  • Transition the people

I call this model the “DIRECT Project Leadership Framework” and it’s a great way to remember the most important responsibilities of a project leader. If a project team is addressing each of these elements effectively, then the odds are really good that they will be successful.

The DIRECT Framework is also a great tool for diagnosing the challenges facing a project, and prescribing appropriate solutions, which is where  project management tools and techniques come in. A leader can ask themselves questions like, “Did we clearly define the vision?” “Have we thoroughly investigated our options?” And if the answer to any of these questions is “no” then you can draw on the tools in your project management toolkit to get ahead of a problem before it puts your project – and your team – in jeopardy.

Project management is useful, but project leadership is critical. Effective project leadership is all about being DIRECT. If you remember these six principles  and apply them to your projects, I guarantee that you and your teams will be more successful!


Daniel Stanton is a supply chain and project management leader with a passion for building high-performing talent and teams.  Energized by tackling complex challenges and implementing innovative solutions. This article was first published on Linkedin.

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George Brzozowski
I want to help you to see news events as starting points for constructive conversations. I seek to cut through the froth of the political spin cycle to underlying truths and values. I want to be so focused on progress that together we can provide a credible and constructive counter-narrative to the hopelessness-, anger-, and fear-inducing brand of discourse that is so pervasive in the news.

One Comment


  1. The construction industry is famous for all the bad reasons.Lot of people are making money by conducting various courses.Project management is just one. FIDIC too commenced a series of courses.All in the construction industry are just missing the elephant in the room,that too for a along time.There is a continuing world record loss owing to frauds in Government funded constructions.That too after auditing.It is child’s knowledge that auditing is done to control or eliminate these losses.The other interesting aspect is, these Govt.funded projects are audited by Financial Accountants only.Again it is common sense that the Financial Accountants do not have the knowledge,skill or expertise to audit these massive complex constructions.

    Just for the record, this loss owing to frauds in audited Govt.constructions has reached upwards of US $ 4 Trillion per year in 2008.Then in 2015,GOPAC suggested to have a Technical Audit (with a Pool of Technical Auditors with a union) in addition to Financial for Govt. funded projects.Nothing happened,the same auditing continues with losses.

    If we assume that a proper Technical audit is in place for Govt.funded projects then

    There is a possibility for several standards
    These standards can evolve with a union
    Most importantly at least 20% of this can be easily salvaged.The amount thus salvaged is around US $ One Trillion a year (the combined GDPS of South Africa & Saudi Arabia)
    enough to say Good bye to GLOBAL POVERTY.

    Please listen my You Tube clip for details.

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