Brilliant Project Leader: Shackleton

Brilliant Project Leader will be my second book about project management (the first will be Risk Happens!).  It will also be my fourth book for Prentice Hall’s “Brilliant” series.

I finished planning it and have started writing it this week and the words are flowing from my finger tips like wine from your first bottle on a Friday evening.  This is stuff I’ve been talking about in seminars, keynotes and training sessions for years and the ideas are like old friends.  I have a feeling this will be the easiest book to write yet (it will be my seventh).  Click here for a sneak preview of the contents.

Regrets and Recrimination

I have just been writing about the role of regrets and recriminations in leading a project.  There is none.

Things will go wrong from time to time, but your role as project leader is to focus, in approximately* this order, on:

  1. What can be done to prevent more damage or danger
  2. What has happened
  3. What the causes are
  4. What needs to be done in the long term
  5. What options we have for effecting the change
  6. Which option is best
  7. How to get that option implemented as quickly and cost-effectively as is safe
  8. How to secure the project so that the same can’t happen again
  9. What we can learn from it systemically
  10. How each individual concerned can best incorporate the lessons into their professional practice

* Why approximately? Because detailed circumstances differ.

A great illustration

File:Endurance3.jpgWhile researching the book, I came upon a nice story about Sir Ernest Shackleton in both of the books I have about his leadership style (Shackleton’s Way and Leading from the Edge).

Both, by the way, are excellent.

One of the surgeons on Shackleton’s Endurance crew saw two men get a wire rope tangled around the ship’s propeller.


He said of Shackleton:

“there were no recriminations at all.
The thing was done and the thing was to get it undone.”

This was always Shackleton’s way.

The “so what?”

Leadership means controlling your emotional instincts and doing what needs to be done,; not just what might feel good.


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