by Jim Vaughan

How to Hire the Right Project Managers. (part 5 of 6)

Aug 28, 2009
IT Leadership

Discovering a person's leadership ability might be different than you think.

The last skill I will write about is that of leadership. I have to chuckle as I write this. I believe there are a lot of misconceptions on leadership. The first is that leadership is a skill. Read all the books and you will find that leadership is really about many skills. While I don’t deny that these skills are necessary I really think that leadership comes down to a very simple concept. That is having the heart and soul to succeed at what you are doing. From that inner core of energy come all the other skills that you need to be a leader.

While there are many skills there is actual a simple measurement to see if a person leader. If people follow the person then they are a leader.  Leadership has nothing to do with rank, title or position. I have seen many people in high level power positions that are not leaders. In fact I contend that most leaders are found deeper in the organization. The best project managers are seen as leaders by others.

When interviewing project managers it is important to learn about their leadership abilities. But you need not dig into all the individual skills that make up a leader. Instead I would ask them about leadership positions that they have held. How did they come to be the leader? How do they know that they are leaders? If they start talking about position and title they really don’t have a grasp on what it takes to be a leader. You should be looking for them to explain how they developed relationship and earned their leadership. They should be telling you about how they worked effectively with others and built teams. They should be talking about others as much as, or even more than, they talk about themselves. These are the characteristics that a true leader will present. They may understand all of those leadership skills that they learned of in books or were taught in seminars, but that does not mean that they demonstrate these skills. Those who are actually viewed as leaders by others are the true leaders. Those are the people that you want as your project managers.

Next week I will summarize my thoughts from the past few weeks.