Can Project Management be separated from Leadership and Entrepreneurship?

0 Posted by - December 8, 2011 - Leadership, Skills & Tools, Trends & New Thinking, Views & Interviews

HE Dr Ali Mirza opening the Leadershift conference Nov. 2011

November 2011in Bahrain was a busy month for entrepreneurs, leaders and social media supporters. We were spoilt for choice with back-to-back conferences; start up events, networking opportunities and a spectrum of speakers from Bahrain and beyond.

Why I attended these events?

  • There is a close relationship between project management and leadership. We use leadership skills throughout our project lifecycles to lead & motivate teams, make decisions and solve problems. I wanted to hear local leaders tell us about regional lessons learnt, case studies and leadership strategies
  • I wanted to see who the regional leaders were, what motivated them, their aspirations and achievements
  • I wanted to participate in  #GEW, Global Entrepreneurship week festivities and meet present and future leaders, and entrepreneurs.
  • As a budding Project Management entrepreneur I am always on the look out for inspiration.
  • As an active social media for business user, I was keen to hear different views and share my own experiences to benefit others.
  • Curiosity


Leadership Advise, Case Studies and Lessons

The Bahrain International Leadershift Conference was held under the patronage of HE Dr. Abdulhussain bin Ali Mirza, Minister of Energy, Chairman of National Oil and Gas Authority. As HE Dr Mirza entered the conference room there was razzamatazz, flash photography and an entourage of dignitaries in tow looking for their places on the red VIP sofas.


HE Dr Mirza spoke about the necessity to encourage and adopt leadership behaviour. He stressed its importance for Bahrain’s development and future especially through recent political unrest and global economic downturn. He cited from a research that concluded the 5 ingredients of an organisations success as:

1. High corporate cultures,
2. Innovative technologies,
3. Looking after customers,
4. Using the potential of their people
5. Showing leadership
He stressed the most important underpinning success factor for all the ingredients was Leadership.

Live tweets from the Leadershift conference 2011. by @projectarabgulf

Batelco case study on Leadership through transforming Business – Project to transform the working culture to reflect future demands.


Gramco CEO, Dr Adel Hamad spoke about Leadership and cultural change. I enjoyed his explanation on ‘how the corporate culture is the DNA of an organisation’ He spoke about his organisations experiences and the importance of setting KPI’s, having processes and goals to achieve them, measuring progress and evaluating results.



The GM of Human Development, Yokogawa advised leaders to ‘hope for the best plan for the worst.’ He advised that leaders ‘Should be making new mistakes only’ and focused on building crisis leaders.


Susan Stevenson, GM of the Royal Golf Club spoke about engaging leadership through times of change, challenge and crisis she left us all with the message of ‘Treat others the way they want to be treated’ and not the way you believe they should be treated.


I was glad to hear the much-neglected subject of ethical decision-making and principles in the business environment as a leadership competency.


Women Business Leaders Forum


Women Business Leaders Forum – Pictures courtesy of Sahar Al Baharna – Director Humanex


Senior Leaders Circle









The subject of Leadership was approached in a different way at the 2nd Annual Women Business Leaders Forum. This was an informal and wonderful networking event bringing together local female leaders from every profession. I left this event reinforced with leadership messages of courage, creativity and perseverance.


Social Media for Business Purposes

Pictures Courtesy of Clare McInroy – Beckett McInroy Consultancy,

By far the most interactive and vibrant event of the month was ‘Social media for business use’ organised by Clare McInroy of Beckett McInroy Consultancy. Obviously a popular subject reflected from a packed room of professionals from all industries. This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, not only because I was one of the panellists, but also like PMP this is a topical subject that individuals and organisations can’t afford to ignore but have many questions about.


It was at this event that I felt leadership in action; my co-panellists were locals and expats who had plenty to say without formal introductions, stages and power-point presentations. The event was un-scripted, the audience were forthcoming with questions and opinions. The panellists were of different generations and represented a range of social media experience from marketing, business,blogging and technical. They knew their subject matter well and provided encouragement and inspiration.

Me and my co-panellists at the Social Media for Business event 2011

After days of leadership theory, models, rhetoric and quoting from researches this was a very relevant and refreshing close to this months subject.






My conclusions

Leaders and entrepreneurs display commitment, skill, drive and enthusiasm. They are able to use available resources, tools and techniques to deliver results. Leaders have strength of personality, make timely decisions, predict and plan. Leaders are able to adapt and face the future embracing change for the betterment of their organizations and people. Whether that comes as innovative solutions, technological, social media or other.


There were many examples of how organizations initiated projects to enable leadership, however I was disappointed and surprised that project management was not mentioned as a leadership tool. Organizations would do well not forget that it is through Portfolio, Program and project professionals that visions, missions and goals become reality.

Although leadership and project management are distinctly different they are complementary and both are necessary for today’s changing and complex business environment. Leadership skills are a driving force but coupled with project management skills one can ensure processes such as planning, scheduling, estimating, budgeting and resource are managed effectively.


Project Managers are Entrepreneurs, Leaders and use Social Media


In a region where governments and organisations commit billions of dollars to projects in every sector there should be an acknowledgement of the role of project management as an important factor in the leadership and entrepreneurship mix. Next year, I look forward to promoting and hearing from project managers as leaders who have a lot to contribute to these discussions.

1 Comment

  • Larry Puleo February 8, 2013 - 6:57 pm Reply

    Entrepreneurs don’t embrace portfolio, program and project professionals because they see them as an expense as opposed to an investment to move strategic initiatives forward. There is a disconnect because entrepreneurs think everything can be accomplished through sweat equity and working longer days and weeks is the answer to overcome challenges of growth.

    Entrepreneurs do not readily accept that their organizations are not built to implement change so using project management as a discipline to prioritize, sequence, plan, schedule, resource, oversee and hold people accountable is not in their DNA.

    The challenge for project managers as leaders is to work with entrepreneurs to realize portfolio management is a true measure of an organization’s intent, direction and progress and not a burdensome administrative process.

    The takeaway is that the big picture perspective afforded through portfolio management makes it an invaluable tool to ensure an organization’s projects are in sync with it’s strategic business goals.

    Implementing a portfolio management process will also identify weaknesses in an organization’s execution processes.

    As a PM professional it is our job to challenge the status quo and elevate portfolio management to the strategic level.

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