Don’t you want to perform at leading your projects (or programs) and have fun doing it?

Don’t you want to drive projects by yourself, learn and become efficient, rather than delegating project management to others? This is an interesting ambition that we share!


Check your habits

Efficient project management is done by using active and dynamic habits → driving the action and execution, being smart, subtle, structured, adaptable, pushing, being accountable, being convincing. It’s a leader’s job, not a metronome’s job!

Bad project management habits are passive, such as → being distant and administrative, lacking in creativity, and a poorly-thought-out execution plan. Then it becomes a laborious and boring task of merely following the progress of others, reading the meters, monitoring risks, etc – with very little value added to the process. Operating within an organization with a weak or inefficient framing structure is also detrimental to success.

Each project presents a completely different situation, each event requires analysis & finesse to understand it well, to visualize the consequences, and make the right moves.

And it is not easy to become an excellent project manager/project director or program director. It requires experience, technique, and great determination.

Coaching and/or mentoring is an excellent way to develop these critical skills.


Look ahead and seek for advice, help to grow

It’s easy to say “he (or she) is not a good project manager (or a leader), he doesn’t do this, does not provide clear direction, doesn’t make the decisions, has no drive.” But who really helps the project manager to perform, to steer correctly, to structure, to anticipate, to see far, to feel the wind changing, to avoid obstacles, etc? Does he/she have the keys to succeed in his/her project? What should be done to put him/her in a situation to get there, to perform?

Wouldn’t you rather be accompanied and helped to steer your projects well rather than delegating it to others? Don’t you want to take pleasure in piloting the execution, to really be a pilot at the controls rather than being in the passenger seat counting the miles traveled and the errors of the route? Be better able to handle complex tasks in the future?

This support can be given to a project manager in several ways:

    • By his direct manager, peers, and colleagues
    • By hands-on coaching by a senior consultant
    • By your own with training, by self-analysis or tutorials,…

My advice is to use all 3 in fact!

This will avoid the alternative scenarios (which are not only frustrating but can be very costly):

    • Throwing in the towel, failing in your projects, or delivering a bunch of crap.
    • Have the project management taken out of your hands and given to a third party (outsourced or handed off to another employee).


Education gives the basics – Senior Mentoring is the X factor

To perform, education and training really help, but be careful, as they only provide some fundamentals and a good framework to better manage your project! Is a certified project manager “PMP, Prince2, Agile…whatever” a good project manager?

→ No! – at least not at first! It can even be a destabilizing factor for some and a refuge to hide behind frameworks for others, and to become an ‘administrative and not very creative’ project manager. It doesn’t replace common sense, humanity, listening capabilities, and the use of tricks based on experience.

The other way to perform, which is much more powerful and quicker, is to call on the support of an experienced senior manager to help a project manager perform and become a top performer. To be their coach/mentor. Is it not what is done by(for) many leaders at C-Level?

It is! Getting help on a day-to-day basis or during key phases makes all the difference in the quality of the execution, in the pleasure you take in leading, and in the experience you live. It becomes a fun game, like a board game, a chess game, or a quest, that you play with others, that you share – and win – as a team.

To share my personal experience, this is how I learned to top perform at program leading myself – through coaching throughout my progression. I have been fortunate to be accompanied and coached since the beginning of my career, by top guns in project management, and I learned at high speed. While keeping the steering wheel in my hands, I was helped by co-pilots, super experienced, and caring to guide me to avoid traps and help me anticipate. I’m so glad, that I accepted this help, advice, and understood all the benefits of sharing; being perpetually grateful for it and staying in a learning mindset all the time. The mentoring helped me deliver better results and at the same time groomed me to become a mentor.

Keep the control of the steering wheel

It’s important to mention that being helped or coached does not mean delegating accountability. While learning, I have always kept the steering wheel, been accountable, assumed responsibility for the outcomes, and never delegated neither the steering nor the core communication.

So being helped will better position you to keep control.

There is nothing better for learning fast and create good habits than to drive with a reassuring helper. Isn’t that right?

If this resonates with you, if you want to perform (or make others on your team perform) as a project manager, to succeed in the projects you are entrusted with, while keeping the steering wheel and shining, please contact me or my team at Penon Partners.

And you, what do you think? Is for you the best way to become a talented project manager?

Written by Jean-Christophe Laurent,, CEO at Penon Partners

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