About 20 years ago, smart organizations started to realize that when the baby boomers begin walking out the door they would leave a very large void in the leadership ranks. Over time, these organizations began to put their minds to succession within senior management and as a result they are very well prepared for the exodus that has now begun.
On the other hand, there are many organizations that chose to ignore this issue and today they are realizing that they have a real problem on their hands. They do not have the people to fill the void being left behind.
If you were running your HR department today and you realized that you were short qualified people to promote to senior positions, what would you do?
The real question is where would you look? Look outside the organization and it gets very costly and risky. Look inside the organization and at first glance it might seem like the pickings are pretty slim.
But the truth is that there is a group, department or team of people within who would make great leaders.
There are four reasons why project managers would make great leaders.
- They have the right attitude. Project managers are always facing a deadline with constraints and they are constantly driven by getting the job done within budget and on time. They want to succeed and deliver to major stakeholders exactly what was promised. This is a key attitude required of our leaders and the first reason why project managers would fit well into this role.
- They have the right knowledge. Successful project managers know the business, their industry and very importantly they have the ability to see the big picture when they’re working on projects within larger programs. Strong business acumen is a critical element of any leader and project managers certainly come to the table with a strong foundation in this area.
- They have the right attributes. Project managers are well organized, calm in the heat, good delegators, intuitive, inspirational, empathetic and the list goes on. Put that list up against your leadership team and the parallels are easy to see.
- They have the right skills. Project managers and leaders understand risk, finances, negotiating, decision-making and the all-important communication skills including presenting, writing and listening. With the skill set like this, project managers certainly come to the table with leadership level qualities.
Organizations, if they have not already done so, are waking up and realizing that they need to find their future leaders quickly. The project management team is a great place to start looking.
Next week, lets talk about what project managers can do about this.