Focus on Leadership – PDUs and the PMI Talent Triangle

In the new PMI Talent Triangle for categorizing PDUs, effective Dec 1, 2015, it's not surprising that leadership takes a "lead" role!

Leadership and the PMI Talent Triangle

Leadership is one of the three legs of the Talent Triangle. However, although leadership appears as one-third of the Talent Triangle, In fact, in "PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: Navigating Complexity", the PMI reported that 75% of organizations rank leadership skills as the most important for successful navigation of complexity in projects.


Leadership training itself is nothing new, although it is new that PMP's will be required to earn at least eight (8) PDUs through Leadership training, along with eight each for "Technical Project Management" and "Strategic and business Management", during the three year renewal period.

But, requirements, PDUs, and training aside, how can you actually apply leadership on the job?

Leadership is a complex and open-ended topic. When I think about it, I initially think of things like planning, having a vision, managing people and situations, communicating effectively,... In other words, I think of a scattering of topics across the full spectrum of project management!

So, with the plethora of leadership training as well as leadership topics, how can you focus on the few things related to leadership that will make you, your project, and your organization more effective and successful?

The Benefit of a Laser-like Focus

Things change...within yourself, on a project, and in any organization. Likewise, the need for application of leadership changes, also. Thus, in order to get the most from your leadership efforts, you need to be able to custom make a leadership approach that addresses the situation.

Let me give you an example. One organization, a large research-oriented, technically-driven organization, chose three things to emphasize to positively influence the culture across the organization. The leadership came up with three tenets to lead everyone in the right direction:

  1. It's a people business.
  2. How we do it is through trust, empowerment, and communications.
  3. It's all about what we are doing for the stakeholders.

These are very simple things - no rocket science here. But it is in the simplicity that we find the beauty - and the potential effectiveness.

Neither life nor project management come with a set of instructions. Nor should they!

We cannot know with certain what the consequences of our actions will be, nor can we predict with any level of certainty the future, with all of its complexity. In addition, it is often difficult, even after we have taken action, to accurately evaluate the effect!

Leadership Is About Setting Effective Rules

However - and this is where leadership comes in - we can set the parameters, or rules, for guiding decisions and actions.

And we can prioritize them.

In the example above, leaders have set some rules and priorities around people ("It's a people business."), working values ("trust, empowerment, and communications"), and higher purpose ("It's all about what we are doing for the stakeholders.")

Rules are what we have, in the absence of certainty and predictability. And it is rules that we, as leaders, can apply and communicate.

The PMI, Leadership, and PDUs

As I mentioned above, the PMI reported that 75% of organizations rank leadership skills as the most important for successful navigation of complexity in projects. But what exactly do they mean by leadership skills?

In the PMI Talent Triangle, the PMI defines qualifying PDUs for Leadership as "Knowledge, skills and behaviors specific to leadership-oriented, cross-cutting skills that help an organization achieve its business goals."

It further states that Leadership is "competency in guiding and motivating" and specifically lists competencies in the following areas as applying to the PMI Talent Triangle category of "Leadership":

  • Brainstorming
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Conflict management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Influencing
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening
  • Negotiation
  • Problem solving
  • Team building

As in my examples above, this covers a lot of ground and requires some focus.

Concluding Ideas for Action

The key is to make it simple - like three rules, as in our example. Make them focused such that they speak to the special challenges you face personally, or on this particular project, or even within your organization.

Start to evaluate what your key leadership needs are, and carefully craft three that speak to your situation. Craft these into rules that map to these needs and can be used to provide leadership. Finally, communicate them thoroughly across your team!

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