Saturday, August 17, 2019

PMP Protein: Leadership and Team Building

By Vivek Vardhan, PMP

Leadership helps project manager or leaders to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of project goals. It further helps to establish direction by developing a vision of the future goals and targets, align team with project vision through communication and inspire individuals to overcome hurdles. A good leader provides vision and strategy for project and to society. 

As said by a philosopher: 
“It’s not necessary that leaders are formally made; they may arise out of the positions or by virtue of their authority and tasks.”

Further to elaborate, leadership can arise out of one’s personality and traits. Such people are born leaders and take the task of leading groups in whatever they do. Leadership comes naturally to such people. For example, India has umpteen examples of such leaders in various areas like organizational, political, social and religious aspects of life. 

Basic Traits of a Leader

The basic traits of leaders are enumerated below:
  • Ambition and Energy: These characteristics are part of extraversion. This is more indicative of leader emergence. However, people who are too assertive in nature are found to be less effective.
  • Conscientiousness and openness: Individuals who are disciplined and keep their commitments, are creative and flexible, appear to be in a better place with respect to leadership attributes.
  • Agreeableness: This characteristic represents a person who is described as good-natured, co-operative and trusting.
  • Empathy: This leadership characteristic is part of emotional intelligence (EI), makes an important component for effective leadership. Leaders who understand and listen to their followers are more followed by others.

Leadership Styles

Leaders apply various leadership style in their work. In order to describe leadership styles, different scholars have cited different leadership styles based on project’s requirements, goals and objectives. One old school of thought propagates for employee-oriented leadership where leader emphasizes on interpersonal relations with employees and production-oriented leader wherein leader emphasizes technical or task aspects of the job.

The common leadership styles are as below:
  • Visionary and Authoritative: Using this style, project managers able to divert people toward project vision. This is very effective once project scope is defined and signed off.  
  • Coaching: Coaching is used to develop people for the project deliverables. It helps to understand individual’s capabilities and divert it towards project delivery. It is a project manager’s responsibility to understand his team capabilities and utilize it for project delivery. 
  • Affiliative: Creation of emotional bonding with-in team is important for project success. It also helps to motivate team to deal with stressful work environment without impacting deliverables and their strength. 
  • Democratic: Participation from individual has importance, it is project manager responsibility to build consensus through participation and get maximum output based on individual capability, skill and strength.
  • Pacesetting: Attain appropriate and desired outcome from competent team plays a vital role in project success. To achieve this, team individual has to be self-direction, so that by monitoring and shaping their decisions, able to deliver projected results with-in set timelines.
  • Commanding/ Coercive: In times, project face crisis or even before reaching to a crisis, it is important to identify critical issues, non-performing individuals, source of negativity and take corrective measures. In this situation coercive leadership style helps to deal with the problem. This style should be applied occasionally depending on situation, otherwise it would lead to negative impact on overall team performance and affect the work environment in a reverse way. 

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) guide from Project Management Institute (PMI®) has a set of different leadership styles elaborated in its latest edition. In addition to the above styles, you can also those leadership styles such as transactional leadership, servant leadership, charismatic leadership among many others.

Qualities of a Leader
Leadership qualities required for a successful project management and its execution can be understood with the help of following cyclical diagram, which signifies that it is a continuous process and does not end with a task.

The above figure enumerates what is required of a leader on a continuous basis. A leader should be capable of guiding the team in the right direction and influence their behavior to optimally utilize skills and capabilities using relational power. Leader should be able to develop ideas and innovate on strategies to lead the team towards building focus on deliverables. An atmosphere conducive for building of trust be created where the people are inspired to perform and challenge the status quo to scale various organizational aspirations.  Ability of a leader to inspire others to act beyond their self-interest plays a crucial role in determining the success path. All this can be achieved by having a focus on long-range mission and vision by the leader. 

Communication is the crux of all success and failures, if a thought is not communicated in a proper way, it may lead to interpretations and misinterpretations widely affecting the rise and fall of leaders and their leadership skills.

Leadership is the skill which affects a project’s success if not used properly. Strong, ethical leadership is extremely critical for success of a project. Although there are several different leadership styles, only some of the most effective leaders are able to tailor their management practice to suit project requirements.  

One of the key jobs of a leader is to build a successful team. As the project manager, you are the leader of the project. In fact, Project Management Institute (PMI®) defines the project manager as:

“The project manager is the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives.”

Hence, in the concluding part of this piece, let’s see how as the project manager and leader of your project, you can do team building and how in turn it helps your team. 

Team Building
Team building is an important trait of project success. Team Building plays a vital role in successful project delivery by building competent and effective team. It enables and encourages members of a team to work well together. 

However, team building represents action or process, which helps to bring group of people to work together effectivally as a team in order to achieve pre-defined goals, for example, by having them to take part in different activities or games. 

Team building at work place enables better communication; better relationships and ultimately increases team productivity. 

Successful Project managers are best leaders to influence others with their ideas. A good leader deploys their innate qualities to inspire a workforce or a team to achieve goals. 

Team building helps project managers to form efficient team by developing following qualities:
  • Responsive and meaningful Communication: Communication is two-way street, discussion based team building activities enables open communication amongst team individuals. Responsive and meaningful communication helps team individuals to understand each other and improve relationship and in turn, improves quality of work done by team. 
  • Motivate Team Individual: Motivated team is the key of success for a project. A motivated team works together effectively, problems get flattened out easily and achievements begin to flow apparently. The team who can work together are more efficient and passionate about success. Team building and team development activities helps developing motivated team at work.
  • Creativity: Taking the team outside of routine helps exposing them to new experience, which will force them to think out of the box. Working together with other team members can ignite creativity and fresh ideas, which will help them to think and generate creative ideas.      
  • Enhance Productivity: By improving existing ways of working, elimination of obstacles helps to enhance productivity of team. Productivity at work place only be guaranteed if team individuals have ability to work together. Team building activities helps to bring individuals together under one roof.  
  • Develop a Collaborative work culture: Collaborative work culture is help to lay foundation of fruitful project outcome. Team building activities helps to create collaborative work place and improve team dynamics so that decision-making process is streamlined and problem solving become simpler. 
  • Develop Problem Solving Skills: Team building activities that requires co-workers to work together and solve critical problems can improve the ability to think rationally and strategically. If team is able to determine the situation when the problem arises and provide the solution, it can then effectively take charge when a real crisis occurs. 
  • Break the barrier: Team building exercises give leadership the opportunity to meet team individuals as colleague rather than as boss, which helps to boost the employee morale and increase trust factor. 
  • Interpersonal relations: Team building exercises create strong bond between team individuals; it helps to bring them close to each other which eventually gets converted into a strong interpersonal relationship.

Human beings comprise the most important and critical resource of an organization. It is this resource around which all domains of any organization function. Hence, it is very crucial to ensure synergies and co-ordination within the teams and work force so that all other relevant factors automatically fall in place and desired results are obtained.

Written by Vivek Vardhan:
Vivek Vardhan is a Supply Chain Management Professional and has project management exposure of five years. He has overall 21 years of work experience.

[1] Book: Organizational Behavior by Stephen P. Robbins
[2] Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, 6th Edition, by Project Management Institute (PMI)

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Monday, August 12, 2019

PMP Success Story: Stay Focussed and Be Consistent

By Rohit Kumar Pandey, PMP

I am working with Ericsson as a Senior Manager (Customer Project Manager) and have been PRINCE2 Practitioner certified. I knew getting PMP® certification will further add value to my project management skills.

PMP Coaching Experience
I joined Satya’s classes for my PMP training, facilitated by Knowledge-hut. The 4-day classroom program by Satya was interesting and his simpler approach of teaching has helped me to grasp and correlate the logic of process interactions. He shared many tricks to remember the 49 processes across the 10 knowledge areas (KAs), 5 process group (PGs) and a number of ITTOs (inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs). This actually is the essence of PMP exam.

His various yogic tips, advice and success stories on this website:, were quite helpful and gave me insight on how to prepare for the exam.

I was primarily motivated by Satya’s words: “Most people fail in the PMP exam, because they don’t appear for the exam.” Absolutely true!

Own Study
At the end of the 4th Day classroom training I enrolled for Project Management Institute’s (PMI®) membership. The PMBOK® guide is free for all PMI members. Hence, I received a copy of it from PMI.  Soon after that, I purchased the book: “I Want To Be A PMP”, written by Satya.
Simultaneously, I was going through his site and important topics available in site

In parallel, I practiced mock tests received from the provider multiple times. I completed all the mock test exams available in the I Want To Be A PMP book. By doing so, I identified the mistakes and worked on the improvement areas to score better in the next mock test.

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP
For my exam preparation, I referred only the PMBOK guide and I Want To Be A PMP book. The book has many Yogic Tips shared across all the chapters and hence, it is easy for me to connect the dots across all the 49 processes, KAs and PGs.

Most importantly, along with this book, I received sample application forms, highlighted tips and tricks, practice questions, and a number of videos which helped me a lot.

I will recommend for practising enough mock test, then introspect the mistakes and ensure that not to repeat the same mistakes.

PMP Exam Experience
I cleared my PMP exam on 4th April, 2019. During the exam, the first 10 minutes were spent on writing down the important formulae on a scratch paper. This will save your time in remembering the formulae while answering the questions. I started with an agenda to complete 60 questions, in every 1-hour. So I jumped those questions which were taking time to answer it later. I accelerated the pace and was able to finish 200 questions in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Then I used spare time to validate the answer marked for review.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Recommend you to go through the PMBOK guide at least twice.
  • Along with PMBOK guide I followed only one book, “I Want To Be A PMP”.
  • Do practice as many tests you can and try to give 3-5 full mock test in one stretch. This will enable you to sit for 4 hours in a go.
  • There are too many tools and technique to remember, try to understand the logic behind them. You can also google it for more details.
  • Get the PMP Formula Gold Cards (from book, I Want To Be A PMP) and make a point to memorise it
  • Prepare notes to associate and correlate all the processes via KAs, PGs and ITTOs.
  • In the PMP exam. while reading questions, use the strikethrough feature to eliminate the distracting information and then look for the best answer from the given choices.

  • Do memorize the 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas, and the 49 processes; but don’t even attempt to memorize all the ITTOs. Understand the basic logic behind the T&Ts (tools and techniques).
  • Don’t waste time attempting free questions from the internet. 
  • Don’t spend more than 2 min in solving the question. If you have doubt, mark it and move on.
  • Don’t waste time in extending the exam date, set the target and complete it at the earliest.
  • Don’t spend time on reading topics/subjects that are outside PMBOK guide. 

The knowledge gained with PMP credential and associated concepts will help me in handling the future projects. I will continue to apply the PMP basics and fundamentals in my project management work and tailoring the processes as per the scope of my project.

Finally, thanks to Satya for his training and the most valuable book I read: I Want To Be A PMP. 

Brief Profile:  
Rohit Pandey, Senior Manager, with 15 years of profound and enriching experience in Telecom domain. 
Organization – Ericsson

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

PMP Success Story: Decide, Commit and Succeed

By Kumari Warsha Goel, PMP

My career was stuck in an organization for quite some time. Hence, I was looking for options to add value to my profile and also to my learning. After researching the market and considering my current experience level, I decided that Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. I realized this credential can take me in the right direction giving me a career boost at the same time.

PMP Coaching Experience
After deciding to take up the PMP certification, I approached few of my colleagues to suggest a good trainer. My manager suggested taking Satya Sir's Classes. Now I was clear and committed that PMP is the certification to pursue and Satya Sir would be my coach. 

As the next step I approached and attended the classroom training classes by Satya Sir. In his classes, you get a lot of information on project management. Hence, to catch-up and understand all of them, you need good attention, and commitment. These will be important for you to succeed in the exam. I decided I would take a week's break to catch up on the material and concepts taught by him and then attend the next two classes of him. 

After completing the training, I filled the PMP application form. My application was approved without audit, which was a relief for me. I realized that “now” is the time to get ready to prepare wholeheartedly for the exam and refine myself up to be a PMP.

Own Study
I decided to purchase a hard copy of the PMBOK® guide as I find e-books difficult to read and prefer hard copies. When I went through the PMBOK guide for the first time, I could not get enough out of it. So, referred few online videos on the web provided by Satya Sir and Varun Anand, which helped me to clarify my concepts further. 

Next, I went through the PMBOK guide for the second time, which gave me some insight into the topics but I could not understand well. Also, it was needed as I was not able to score more than 60% in any of the mock tests. I realized questions are tricky and unless I get my concepts very clear it would be difficult for me to achieve my target. Hence, I read the PMBOK for the 3rd time, which was actually very useful to have a sound understanding of project management concepts.

Now my next target was to solve as many questions as possible. I registered for paid question practice test from simplilearn and mock tests mentioned at Management Yogi:

I solved more than 2,000 questions and when my score reached 70% to 75%, I felt now it’s time to schedule for the exam. I scheduled the exam and took one week leave before the exam to have a proper mindset. This one-week preparation added lot of value, and it boosted my score to reach from 75% to 85% in mock exams.

PMP Exam Experience
Finally, the D-day arrived. The exam center in Bangalore has changed from Whitefield to Dickenson road. My scheduled exam time was 8 a.m. 

I entered the exam after all the necessary formalities. After 2.5 hours was lapsed, I realized I’ve only completed 90 questions. I decided to increase the momentum then and was able to complete all questions in 3 hours and 45 minutes. In the last 15 minutes, I managed to review 25 questions, out of which I modified the answers of two.

I submitted one minute before and also took the survey. My heart was pounding thinking about the result, and I was thinking the result will be negative. The exam center coordinator handed over the printout upside down. I didn’t want to see the score! I came out of the exam centre and then saw in three process group I was Above Targets and on two process groups I was on Target and on top, it has been mentioned as pass.

I still was not sure until I gave it to my husband to verify whether I’ve actually cleared. He confirmed the same. It took me some time to realize that I’ve passed the exam, and finally all my hard work has been paid off. And I’ve achieved my target.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Don’t try to memorize the content, but try to clear your concepts.
  • The PMBOK guide is a must-read and the more you read through it, the more insight you will get.
  • Solve as many mock questions as possible, though the exam pattern was completely different from the one I had practiced. However, with this, at least you will understand how questions can be tricky. It will also help you to have a sound understanding. 

I want to use my PMP credential as a tool to enhance my professional skills and I want to keep learning in the project management domain. The PMP credential is not only an evaluation of project management concepts, but it’s also a self-evaluation of my skills, commitment and potential to achieve things that I dream of.

Brief Profile: 
I am Warsha Goel and work as senior Test Leader. I aspire to excel in management field by continually working on process improvement and honing my skills by applying current, new and emerging project management practices.

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