As with season changes normally, promotions become effective. You’ve been a fantastic project manager. Your projects and schedules matched. You have a knack for getting cross functional teams to get their particular task complete on time to fit into the bigger picture. You’ve done such a great job; your organization asks you to put together a PMO (project management office) or a COE (center of excellence). You are super excited as this is a promotion to a focal management position and recognition amongst your peers. Congratulations, you no longer lead projects. You’ve been promoted right out the job you love.
What now? Whether you are aware of it or not; you are responsible for the effectiveness of the portfolio of projects ensuring they are meeting the strategic objectives of your organization. The average life expectancy of a PMO Leader is 18-36 months. Deal with it. You now have to get creative. Job security would have been the Project Management Manager. With this position, it’s strictly people. The PMO is all influence and informal authority. You are the subject matter expert (SME) for running projects in your organization.
Forget what you think you know. Remember Mission first, People Always. You cannot get anything accomplished without people. You can manage projects but not people. You now have to lead a team of managers to excellence in their projects. You can easily document all that you have done and make policies and processes. You now must inspire the project managers you are now auditing. Yes, audit. You evaluate their effectiveness measured by their ability to manage risk. Yeah, you’re that dude!!.
I’m here to give you hope. You can do this effectively if you follow the following leadership laws. You can read about these in more detail in John Maxwell’s book, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

  • Law of Navigation- You must chart a path that is clearly defined with measurable benchmarks to show and market the organization’s progress.
  • Law of Addition- You have to add value to those you serve, your project managers first, then your private stakeholders.
  • Law of Empowerment- Be secure enough to allow other PM’s to provided input and make decisions that are evaluated by upper management with your coaching.
  • Law of Victory- Find a way for your PM’s to win. Does that mean getting involved in a project decision, Maybe? Does that mean you applaud them for small victories, yes? Make sure they win and when they win its recognized by the organization.

If you follow these laws as a core you not only will be successful you will be respected and revered not as the know it all but as go-giver, a servant leader that not only knows the way, but also goes the way, and leads the way for others. You will be uncomfortable every step of the way as you have released control and no longer manage projects, you lead people. You are not a project manager. You are a business leader with a passion for projects. Align your portfolio hit your targets, reward those that help you. Your life, your new department, and sanity depend on it. Remain Uncomfortable.