The Demands of Project Leadership


Positive Leadership in Project Management


By Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow

New York, NY, USA

Most people who study the concepts of leadership, or observe leaders as they perform their roles, are certain that leadership involves setting direction, creating a sense of purpose among their teams, motivating for high performance, and gaining commitment to achieve the goals that have been set for the organization.

Leadership is also about building strong relationships with the people in the organization. This is accomplished by developing a set of clearly defined values and establishing a high level of trust. Leadership is also about consistency. Demonstrating that the leader’s values remain constant, even during periods of great challenge.

That does not mean the avoidance of change and creating an inflexible environment. Agility, these days, is a necessity and leaders must continually adapt to the fast-paced transformations taking place in the business world, especially in the discipline of project management.

Project managers are leaders and are expected to accomplish difficult assignments, in many cases, without much visible support from their executive management. This means that project managers must build and continue to develop a set of skills to meet the challenges of each project assignment.

According to an article in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review, March – April 2021, the skills needed in many roles today have a short shelf life, partly due to the “frequent and disruptive technological breakthroughs that continue to change the way people live. The shelf life of many leadership skills is, if we look back at the many articles and books written about leadership, and the behaviors of great leaders, is actually quite long and some skills may not have an expiration date. However, the pandemic and the changes it has forced into the project environment, have required project managers, and most leaders, to adapt, revise, and develop new ways to manage their teams and their organizations.

The new environment has redefined how people work and how leaders lead. More than ever before, leaders must focus on the critical skills necessary to remain effective and successful, and to ensure they are respected by their constituents.

A GALLUP study conducted in 2007 and summarized in an article published by The Business Journal – The Demands of Executive Leadership – indicated that there are 7 essential leadership demands that require a leader to build the skills necessary for success:

  • Visioning
  • Maximizing Value
  • Challenging experience
  • Mentoring
  • Building a constituency
  • Making Sense of the experience
  • Knowing self

I’m sure that most students of leadership would agree that this set of demands is applicable in today’s business environment and there may be a few more demands to add. We may include managing diversity, virtual work teams, constant technology change and perhaps even more.

These demands require a set of foundation skills and a mindset to continue “upskilling” as the business and project environments change.


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Editor’s note: This article is one in a series on Positive Leadership in Project Management by Frank Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow, popular speaker and author of books on leadership in project management published by Wiley and IIL in the United States. Frank is widely known as the originator of the International Project Management Day, the annual celebrations and educational events conducted each November by PMI members, chapters and organizations around the world.

How to cite this paper: Saladis, F. (2021). The Demands of Project Leadership: Series on Positive Leadership in Project Management. PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pmwj104-Apr2021-Saladis-the-demands-of-leadership-series-article.pdf


About the Author

Frank P. Saladis

New York, USA


Frank P. Saladis, PMP, PMI Fellow is a Consultant and Instructor / Facilitator within the project management profession and has over 35 years of experience in the IT, Telecom Installation and IT Project Management training environment. He is a senior consultant and trainer for the International Institute For Learning Inc. and has been involved in the development of several project management learning programs. Mr. Saladis has held the position of Project Manager for AT&T Business Communications Systems, National Project Manager for AT&T Solutions Information Technology Services and was a member of Cisco Systems Professional Services Project Management Advocacy Organization. His responsibilities included the development of Project Management Offices (PMO) and the development of internal training programs addressing project management skills and techniques.

He is a Project Management Professional and has been a featured presenter at the Project Management Institute ® Annual Symposiums, Project World, PMI World Congress, CMMA, and many PMI Chapter professional development programs. He is a past president of the PMI New York City Chapter and a Past-President of the PMI ® Assembly of Chapter Presidents. Mr. Saladis is a Co-Publisher of the internationally distributed newsletter for allPM.com, a project management information portal, and a contributor to the allPM.com project management website.

Mr. Saladis is the originator of International Project Management Day and has written numerous leadership and project management related articles. Mr. Saladis is also the author of the Project Management Workbook and PMP ® / CAPM ® Exam Study Guide that supplements Dr. Harold Kerzner’s textbook – Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling?, 9th Edition published by John Wiley & Sons and the author of Positive Leadership in Project Management, published by IIL Publishing. He is a member of the International Executive Guild and the NRCC Business Advisory Council. He has also held the position of Vice President of Education for the Global Communications Technology Specific Interest Group of PMI ® and holds a Master’s Certificate in Commercial Project Management from the George Washington University. Mr. Saladis received the prestigious Lynn Stuckenbrook Person of the Year Award from the Project management Institute in 2006 for his contributions to the organization and to the practice of project management.  He can be contacted at saladispmp@msn.com

To view other works by Frank Saladis, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/frank-p-saladis/