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The Eight Essential People Skills for Project Management

Solving the Most Common People Problems for Team Leaders

By Zachary Wong
16-minute read
Audio available
The Eight Essential People Skills for Project Management: Solving the Most Common People Problems for Team Leaders by Zachary Wong

The Eight Essential People Skills for Project Management (2018) is a hands-on guide designed to help team leaders diagnose and solve people problems in today’s increasingly horizontal workplaces. The fruit of years of first-hand experience, Zachary Wong’s playbook for effective leadership is packed full of actionable advice on how to boost motivation, confront underperformers and push through fear of failure.

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Leaders and managers
  • Anyone fascinated by workplace psychology

Zachary Wong is a management consultant and leadership coach who specializes in organizational and personal effectiveness. He has consulted with project teams, review boards and industry associations. Wong also teaches at the University of California, Berkeley Extension, and the University of California, Davis.

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The Eight Essential People Skills for Project Management

Solving the Most Common People Problems for Team Leaders

By Zachary Wong
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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The Eight Essential People Skills for Project Management: Solving the Most Common People Problems for Team Leaders by Zachary Wong
Synopsis

The Eight Essential People Skills for Project Management (2018) is a hands-on guide designed to help team leaders diagnose and solve people problems in today’s increasingly horizontal workplaces. The fruit of years of first-hand experience, Zachary Wong’s playbook for effective leadership is packed full of actionable advice on how to boost motivation, confront underperformers and push through fear of failure.

Key idea 1 of 10

The role of team leaders has changed as companies have become less hierarchical.

Whether it’s a general casting his eye over the battlefield or a manager analysing the business environment, successful leadership is all about adapting strategy to the facts on the ground. And when the facts change, it’s vital to change your approach. That also goes for project management – after all, the world of business has experienced dramatic changes in recent decades.

In the old days, corporations resembled pyramids. At the top sat a small number of powerful executives. Below them were the senior managers who relayed instructions to middle managers, who, in turn, oversaw the largest and least powerful group: employees. It was a top-down model; responsibility, pay and prestige increased the further up the pyramid you went. Rising through the ranks was a steep and difficult climb.

Today, that model seems increasingly passé. The idea that the workers at the base of the structure are laborers requiring an autocratic, command-and-control approach is outdated. Modern businesses are increasingly becoming more democratic structures. The contemporary workforce is more educated, skilled and tech-savvy than ever before, and employees expect to see that reflected in their roles. What they want, in other words, isn’t just a paycheck but an opportunity to realize their potential.

Businesses have responded to this new reality by shifting from a pyramid model to a wedge structure. Imagine cutting a pyramid in half and laying it on its side. It now looks like a doorstop-shaped wedge with three sections interacting on a horizontal rather than a vertical axis.

At the smallest end are individual contributors – employees whose unique contributions are essential to the organization’s overall success. In the middle are work teams – groups of contributors working toward a common goal. Finally, there’s management. The size of their section doesn’t reflect their absolute numbers, but rather the amount of power and resources at their disposal.

This model requires project managers to play a new role. As a team leader in this structure, your job is to work fluidly between all three sections, connecting individual performance to your organization’s strategic aims. Call it organizational alignment, which is essentially about understanding the way the small details of managing relationships with individual contributors affects the success of the company as a whole.

In the next blink, we’ll look at the first key skill: using the wedge model to manage performance and people problems.

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