The Pillars of Project Leadership



By Hadi Colakoglu

Ankara, Turkey



In today’s economy, not only the businessmen and companies but also the countries unfortunately file for bankruptcy. The reason for this to me is bad management and furthermore the lack of good leaders. I believe that we need good leaders now more than ever.

No company or organization can exist without successful projects. In today’s world, the success rate of projects is below 40%. This points out the importance and necessity of good project managers. Than the key question is, “How can we increase the chances of success for our projects?” First of all, of course we should be skilled and good project managers but is it enough?  Well, not most of the time as it seems…We should be Project Leaders…

The five key pillars of Project Leadership are as follows:


“Numbers aren’t the vision, numbers are the products and
I don’t talk the numbers.”

— Jack Welch

Great leaders always have a vision and they really work hard to realize it. Since “vision” is basicallly a concept of strategy, it is directly related to strategic leadership. “Our project is only a six month project. What vision are you talking about?” I hear you asking. You could be right in time perspective but you should also use the power and leverage of the vision. You could imagine the end of the project, illustrate it, find a hitting slogan and share all these with your stakeholders.



“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

— Ken Blanchard

Leadership means influence. You could observe the best and lean examples of this in the volunteering organizations. In other organizations, your job is rather easy. The one who has the status, also has the legitimate power. If you are a boss, you may fire your people or promote them. In volunteering organizations, you cannot force your people for anything. If the leader has no influence, the volunteers won’t follow him. As Dale Carnegie emphasizes, “There is only one way to get anybody to do anything and that is by making the other person want to do it.”



“Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”

— Lee Iacocca

Common motivation theories so far, are becoming inadequate day by day in this era of changes. Daniel Pink, in his book “Drive”; says that the employee’s motivation can be evolved in three stages in history. Motivation 1.0 approach is about maintaining the life such as eating, drinking, breeding etc. In other words, that is the bottom of the Maslow’s Pyramid. Motivation 2.0 covers rewards and punishment mechanisms. So, that is the “carrots and sticks”… Pink implies that old school rewards such as money, benefits or promotion are not often working today. The bottom line of the Motivation 3.0 is the employee’s autonomy to do the job the way and at the time they want. The three main elements of this approach are autonomy, goal and the mastery.



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Editor’s note: Submittal of this article was facilitated by PMWJ correspondent Ipek Sahra Ozguler

How to cite this article: Author last name, first initial (2020). Title, PM World Journal, Volume IX, Issue VI, June How to cite this article: Colakoglu, H. (2020). The Pillars of Project Leadership; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/pmwj94-Jun2020-Colakoglu-the-pillares-of-project-leadership.pdf



About the Author


Hadi Colakoglu

Ankara, Turkey



Hadi Colakoglu is a management and leadership expert, an international leadership speaker, and the author of the book “Be the Leader of Your Projects”. He is also an author at Harvard Business Review-Turkey. Some of his presentations and trainings have reached thousands of people.

Starting with the defense industry, he has more than twenty years of experience, as a senior software engineer, leader, and project manager and led many teams. He has been a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Turkey Chapter Board of Directors and he holds the PMP® Credential.

He has a thorough working project management knowledge and experience and has trained hundreds of people over the last seven years. The first edition of his book is sold only in eleven months. Hadi and his wife Nursel live in Ankara. They have 2 children- Mete and Miray. He likes motorcycling and climbing the mountains.