Book review: Leadership Principles for Project Success

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Book cover of Leadership Principles for Project Success“It’s misleading to define project success in static terms, focusing only on the final delivery,” writes Thomas Juli in his book, Leadership Principles for Project Success. In this book, he sets out a broader definition of success, although you have to wait until page 84 to get to it.

Project leadership is a hot topic at the moment and this book is part of the cultural evolution about what a project manger does. It’s peppered with examples and Juli’s personal experiences. Everyone loves a good story, and there are plenty in here. The Leadership Principles referred to in the title are:

  • Build vision
  • Nurture collaboration
  • Promote performance
  • Cultivate learning
  • Ensure results

The book has two major parts: the first explains and discusses these principles, and the second shows how to apply them at various stages throughout the project.

There’s a lot of common sense stuff, but then, if we all did what was common sense projects wouldn’t have half the problems  they do. Juli admits that common sense is a key factor in project success, but also says that it alone is not sufficient and that “it takes at least one person to lead the pack.”

But what if you aren’t in a leadership role? Juli has taken this into account too, and there is a good section with practical advice on what to do when you are not in charge and don’t, for example, have the influence to build the vision.

Being a lover of all things practical, I found the appendices to be the best bit. There are sample documents and templates for you to use, all in the name of clear communication and setting a common level of understanding amongst the project stakeholders.

I did think that there are some paragraphs that could have been more tightly edited, and the book could have been 20 pages shorter with less waffle, but that’s not a serious criticism and you’ll still enjoy reading it. You never know, we all might become project leaders with this sort of guidance, and that would be no bad thing.

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This review first appeared on How to Manage a Camel.