Project managers should not try to be heroes

Friday, January 24th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

We've all known managers who have committed impressive acts of "heroism" for their team. Often, these can take the form of long hours before a crucial deadline, or rousing pep talks to boost morale at important moments. Businesses have traditionally held these actions in high regard, and in many cases the "hero" gets promoted.

However, an article on brings an entirely new perspective to this issue. It suggests that acts of "heroic leadership" may not, in fact, be as good for business as previously thought.

"For a business of any size, it's more often than not a distressing and painful mistake, wrongly conceived, mistakenly celebrated, and, most dangerously of all, erroneously encouraged," the article reads.

That's because depending on heroes makes it difficult for a business to scale up. Companies that reach a certain size and level of complexity cannot afford to depend on the dramatic deeds of a few hero-managers. Larger companies need to establish procedures to avoid risk in the first place and to manage a crisis when it arises.

"Busting through walls bare-handed is exciting to watch, and sometimes required, but at some point it becomes more effective to simply install a door," the article reads. "Building myths and legends through heroic leadership is a vitally important part of the growth of any business, but insisting on, or regularly depending on mythical, legendary solutions in a complex organization will cap its growth."

At New Leaf Project Management, our 2-day program, "Managing Risk and Making Decisions," will show you how to plan your project so even Clark Kent could handle it. In addition, our online project management games make it easy to earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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