Inspiring Leadership


The Future Project Culture



By Dr. Harold Kerzner

Senior Executive for Project Management
The International Institute for Learning (IIL)
New York and Florida, USA


Dr. Al Zeitoun, PgMP, PMI Fellow

Global Future of Work Executive
Siemens DISW
Ohio and Maryland USA

Introduction _________________________________________________________

In an era where the focus of many global organizations shifts to handling external disruptions, and with digital being at the core of most of the key ones, the future is likely shaped by the shifts in how we lead.  In our research and writing work in the book “Project Management Next Generation: The Pillars for Organizational Excellence,” we dedicated one chapter and a pillar to leadership, yet most of all the other 9 pillars address critical points related to leading or ways of working into the future.  The definition of what leadership is and what good leadership looks like will likely become one of the frequently changing topics of our times.  With the increasing number of external disruptions, the role of the leaders could very well become the one unique differentiator of how value is best created in the work of tomorrow and how effectiveness in decision-making is maintained.

In this article we will tackle a few elements to start the dialogue on what “Inspiring Leadership” could mean and why it is critical to drive and motivate future generations, including the youngest people alive today, generation Alpha.  Leadership of the future is more about the art of connectedness.  It is the true act of translating context in something that is relatable to ignite the focus of work teams of the future.

If you ask a project manager today, “Do you work for the team members or do the team members work for you?”, the answer would better be that the PM works for the team members and must engage them properly and build trust and strong bonds. We believe this is true servant leadership. Years ago, the PMs would respond that the team works for the PM.  Inspiring leaders lean in with this mindset and exhibit a few additional critical attributes to handle turbulence in the future and deliver innovative outcomes.

Excellence of leading in the future is adaptability to the human needs and the next generations’ ways of working.  We will highlight a few foundational elements from the Next Generation work and use that as the foundation to build the core elements of a future inspirational leadership competencies.  Simply stated, leadership matters more than ever and true project excellence starts and ends with the fitting leadership principles.

Servant Leadership Matters __________________________________________

Since the 1970s, considerable research has been performed related to the link between controlling emotional labor and servant leadership. Spear ([1995], [2002]) elaborated on Greenleaf’s work by identifying ten characteristics of a servant leader:

  • Listening. Listening is a willingness to openly accept the ideas, opinions, and suggestions of workers.
  • Empathy. Empathy extends listening when leaders can put themselves in the situation that others say they are in and empathize with them and their feelings. This is accepting people for who they are.
  • Healing. The ability of a leader to help workers endure the disappointment and emotional pain that comes from broken dreams, hopes, and other challenges.
  • Awareness. The ability of the leader to identify cues and signs in the environment to help workers perform better.
  • Persuasion. Persuasion or persuasion mapping enables the leader to identify the needs of the workers and focus on the importance of their work without the use of formal authority or legitimate power.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Dr. Harold Kerzner and Dr. Al Zeitoun, the co-authors, along with Dr. Ricardo Vargas, of the textbook Project Management Next Generation: The Pillars for Organizational Excellence, published by Wiley in 2022. Learn more about the authors in their profiles at the end of this article.

How to cite this work: Kerzner, H. and Zeitoun, A. (2024). Inspiring Leadership, The Future Project Culture, PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue II, February. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/pmwj138-Feb2024-Kerzner-Zeitoun-Inspiring-Leadership-future-culture-series-1.pdf

About the Authors

Harold Kerzner, Ph.D., MS, M.B.A

Senior Executive Director for Project Management
International Institute of Learning
New York & Florida, USA


Dr. Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director for Project Management for the International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University. He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers and has had published more than 60 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. Some of his books are (1) Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling; (2) Project Management Metrics, KPIs and Dashboards, (3) Project Management Case Studies, (4) Project Management Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence, (5) PM 2.0: The Future of Project Management, (6) Using the Project Management Maturity Model, and (7) Innovation Project Management.

He is a charter member of the Northeast Ohio PMI Chapter.

Dr. Kerzner has traveled around the world conducting project management lectures for PMI Chapters and companies in Japan, China, Russia, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Croatia, Mexico, Trinidad, Barbados, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Venezuela, Columbia, United Arab Emirates, France, Italy, England, and Switzerland. He delivered a keynote speech at a PMI Global Congress on the future of project management.

His recognitions include:

  • The University of Illinois granted Dr. Kerzner a Distinguished Recent Alumni Award in 1981 for his contributions to the field of project management.
  • Utah State University provided Dr. Kerzner with the 1998 Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the field of project management.
  • The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute gives out the Kerzner Award once a year to one project manager in Northeast Ohio that has demonstrated excellence in project management. They also give out a second Kerzner Award for project of the year in Northeast Ohio.
  • The Project Management Institute (National Organization) in cooperation with IIL has initiated the Kerzner International Project Manager of the Year Award given to one project manager yearly anywhere in the world that demonstrated excellence in project management.
  • The Project Management Institute also gives out four scholarships each year in Dr. Kerzner’s name for graduate studies in project management.
  • Baldwin-Wallace University has instituted the Kerzner Distinguished Lecturer Series in project management.
  • The Italian Institute of Project Management presented Dr. Kerzner with the 2019 International ISIPM Award for his contributions to the field of project management.

Dr. Harold Kerzner can be contacted at hkerzner@hotmail.com


Dr. Al Zeitoun, PgMP, PMI Fellow

Global Future of Work Executive
Siemens DISW
Ohio & Maryland USA


Dr. Al Zeitoun is a Future of Work, business optimization, and operational performance excellence thought leader with global experiences in strategy execution. His experiences encompass leading organizations; delivering their Enterprise Digital and Business Transformation; guiding fitting frameworks implementations; and using his empathy, engineering insights, and collaboration strengths to successfully envision new business models and execute complex missions across diverse cultures globally.

In his current role with Siemens, he is a Senior Director of Strategy responsible for driving the global program management practices, Master Plan governance, and enabling the Strategy Transformation processes and priorities.

In his position, as the Executive Director for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Abu Dhabi, UAE, he was responsible for creating the strategy execution framework, achieving transformation benefits, governance excellence, and creating the data analytics discipline necessary for delivering on the $40B complex country energy mission roadmap.

At the McLean, USA HQ of Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Zeitoun strategically envisioned and customized digitally enabled EPMO advisory, mapped playbooks, and capability development for clients’ Billions of Dollars strategic initiatives. Furthermore, he led the firm’s Middle East North Africa Portfolio Management and Agile Governance Solutions.

With the International Institute of Learning, Dr. Zeitoun played a senior leader and global trainer and coach. He was instrumental in driving its global expansions, thought leadership, and operational excellence methodology to sense and shape dynamic ways of working across organizations worldwide. He speaks English, Arabic, and German and enjoys good food, travel, and volunteering. Dr. Al Zeitoun can be contacted at  zeitounstrategy@gmail.com