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Integrity – The Key Trait of a Project Leader

Updated: May 9, 2020

We expend so much energy in identifying best practices and forging the skills implementing the tools we need to deliver successful projects. Our understanding of best practices is important along with our appreciation for the soft skills which shepherd us in our journey from project management to project leadership. Yet, when we select candidates for a project or for promotion to larger and more complex projects, do we look for the most important trait? That trait is integrity.

I submit that if your build your project management staff with a focus on integrity, you will achieve greater success than if you dwell on technical prowess. Whilst we can develop communication and technical skills within project management ranks, we have got to establish integrity as a gate or filter. You could have a project manager who has outstanding technical, communication and organizational skills, but if integrity is lacking, you have a serious problem which will result in long-term failure. Integrity is a core characteristic of the project leader, and without it, the road to consistent project success is perilous and uncertain.

While there are obvious signs which signal whether a project manager has integrity, there are other behaviors and characteristics which should raise a red flag. These include the following:

· The PM never says no and wants to please everyone.

· The PM focuses excessively on harmony rather than encouraging honest debate and healthy conflict.

· The PM is selfish and cares about his or her image more than the team and the project.

· The PM is not transparent about sharing information with executive management, especially with regards to risks.

· The PM does not OWN the result(s).

· The PM thinks or expresses that certain tasks are beneath the PM job description. For a team leader, this is a terrible indicator.

· The PM relies too heavily on “gut” instinct rather than analysis.

· The PM exhibits a fundamental disrespect for subcontractors and suppliers.

· The PM’s actions and body language are ego driven.

· The PM is quick to lose temper and be overly dramatic.

· The PM is unwilling to confront superiors to protect the project or the team.

· The PM is intellectually lazy.

Integrity is THE key attribute for a project leader!

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