Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Leadership and Learning

About this time last month, guest blogger Peter Sloane posted here about leadership skills: how does one go about learning and actively building them? I also discussed the need for developing so-called "soft skills" in becoming a leader, and cited our "Elevating the Role: From Manager to Leader" track at PW&WCBA as one of particular interest.

Not satisfied, we opened the conversation up to our excellent community on the Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts LinkedIn group. One of our members stated:
"The first half of that time I would say I learned experientially but during the second half I become much more proactive in developing my leadership skills. During the first 10 years I was very fortunate in that my boss moved me around every 2 or 3 years and gave me organizations that needed “fixing”. Each had a different problem that required a unique solution. I learned a tremendous amount about leadership through this experience. Unfortunately, I see many managers that don’t learn much through this process because they aren’t given enough of a challenge." 

Another stated that building leadership skills "takes:
1) a personal acknowledgement that you must learn to lead at least yourself
2) observation of the areas in which you work and live (there are examples all around)
3) a decision to change (or not) with which you can live." and added " Leaders lead, no matter what position they hold." 

And yet another member noted that "An effective manager can drive day to day operations, but an effective leader can convince and inspire the team towards achieving the strategic vision, through their daily efforts."

In a PW&WCBA webinar with Peter Saddington today, Saddington stated that he focuses on the "squishy" side of things, which is to say, soft skills, the ability to build trust and to find the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and bring out those strengths. It recalled this conversation to my mind. It seems that regardless of the scope of your project or your goal, the need for leadership skills remains the same.

Some seem to feel it is relatively inherent, others learned, but regardless everyone seems to agree that it is something an individual needs to step up to and actively take on, evaluating your teams needs and facing challenges.

Would you agree? The conversation continues, join us on LinkedIn to share your thoughts. 

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at

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