Anti-Leadership revisited


The War on Ethics


Welcome to the December 2021 PMWJ



By David L. Pells

Managing Editor

Addison, Texas, USA

Welcome to the December 2021 edition of the PM World Journal, the 112th monthly edition. This month’s PMWJ contains 25 new works by 30 different authors representing 13 different countries. This is another great edition, with some seriously good articles, interviews and papers by authors around the world.  Works like these make me proud and happy to continue publishing this journal. I learn something every month, and this time the curve was steep.

Anti-Leadership revisited and the War on Ethics

Meanwhile, before getting into the great contents this month, a few words about the world we are now living in, and my big worry related to projects and project management. There seems to be a war on ethics emerging. Dishonesty and corruption have always been problems on projects, especially in some industries and locations, due to human nature and greed; we fight these issues every day with professional standards, professionalism, honest reporting, fair treatment of stakeholders and ethical behavior. Those principles have always seemed like project management 101 to me. But social factors, political trends and organizational dynamics seem to be trending negative, at least here in the USA and most likely elsewhere. Dishonesty seems to be increasing everywhere. I believe professionalism is at serious risk.

In February 2017, I authored an editorial titled “The Big Reverse: Politics, Anti-leadership and the Looming Threat to Professionalism”. Writing shortly after then newly-elected U.S. president Donald Trump was inaugurated, I wrote that I was concerned about “the ‘post-truth’ era and the use of ‘alternative facts’ by the president and his team – in other words, the apparent broad acceptance of dishonesty in leadership.” I continued “the new president demonstrates characteristics and actions in direct conflict with traits (and) … the leadership standards promoted in the project management profession, and with professional codes of ethics and conduct…” I called this “anti-leadership” and I believed it was dangerous.

In that same editorial, I went on to briefly discuss some of the bedrock principles of professional codes of behavior: honesty, fairness, respect, responsible behavior, competence and ethics. President Trump and his supporters appeared to neither exhibit nor value any of those principles. While the Trump administration embodied this ‘anti-leadership”, the bigger issue in my opinion was the 63 million who voted for and supported the president. As I stated at the time, “the professional standards of behavior that we are committed to have either lost their standing or were never very important to a lot of our stakeholders. As I see it, professionalism is absolutely incompatible with dishonesty or unethical behavior. Among supporters of the new U.S. president, professionalism was either never well-established or is in full retreat. If those supporters are in project-based organizations or on program or project teams, then the PM profession is in trouble in those places.” [1]

In February of this year, I raised the ethics issue again in the second of my “Project Management Needs a Higher Purpose” editorial, subtitled “Mission Statements, Social Responsibility and the Rogue Black Elephant.” I labeled corruption as the “rogue black elephant” that was and is stampeding across the world of projects and project management. I argued, “I think the definition of corruption from Transparency International and used in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) is incomplete. I believe that dishonesty itself underlies all corruption. Dishonesty includes lying, cheating and stealing. Without honesty, there can be no trust between individuals, organizations or groups of any kind. If we cannot trust what others say, how can we work with them?” [2]


To read entire welcome article, click here

How to cite this paper: Pells, D.L. (2021). Anti-Leadership revisited, the War on Ethics and Welcome to the December 2021 PMWJ; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/pmwj112-Dec2021-Pells-welcome-to-the-December-2021-pmwj.pdf

About the Author

David L. Pells

Managing Editor, PMWJ
Managing Director, PMWL


 David L. Pells, PMI Fellow, HonFAPM, ISIPM, PMA, SOVNET is Managing Editor and publisher of the PM World Journal (www.pmworldjournal.com) and Managing Director of the PM World Library (www.pmworldlibrary.net). David is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management with more than 40 years of experience on a variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, energy, defense, transit, technology and nuclear security, and project sizes ranging from thousands to billions of dollars. He occasionally acts as project management advisor for U.S. national laboratories and international programs, and currently serves as an independent advisor for a major U.S. national security program.

David Pells has been an active professional leader in the United States since the 1980s, as founder and president of several PMI chapters, founder of PMI’s first SIG (Project Earth), and member of the PMI board of directors twice.  He was founder and chair of the Global Project Management Forum (1995-2000), an annual meeting of leaders of PM associations from around the world. David was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award, PMI’s highest honor, in 1999. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK; the Instituto Italiano di Project Management (ISIMP – Italy); Project Management Associates (PMA – India); and the Russian Project Management Association (SOVNET).  In 2010 he was made an honorary member of the Project Management Association of Nepal.

Former managing editor of PM World Today, he is the creator, editor and publisher of the PM World Journal (ISSN: 2330-4880).  David has a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington and an MBA from Idaho State University in the USA.  He has published widely and spoken at conferences and events worldwide.  David lives near Dallas, Texas and can be contacted at editor@pmworldjournal.com.

To see other works by David Pells, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/david-l-pells/