Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Below I have outlined examples of good and poor leadership and their impact on project management. I aim to conclude with some ideas on what to do, and hope to encourage some feedback and examples.

I have been very lucky that for most of the large-scale business change projects that I have done I have worked with extra-ordinary, talented and charismatic leaders.

This creates the environment which confers responsibility onto capable people, inspires trust and encourages thinking, challenge, and collaboration. When a pool of talent is allowed to debate freely the ideas that will make the organisation stronger the quality of thinking improves with benefits to the outputs and outcome and people’s commitment to them.

This is not an abrogation: the role of leadership is to set the boundaries, define the goals and provide the resources (or constraints) in which the team must operate. This is strong leadership which can be directive in times of emergency or more coaching and supportive when circumstance dictate.

For two of the public sector transformations that I managed the leadership quest was as much about encouraging, coaching and supporting the talent (capacity, capability and drive) as it was about delivering project outcomes and the projects ran broadly parallel to business change programme with each supporting the other.

The business change programme would provide the training, tools, insights and free-thinking and the project programme would provide the outlet for people exercise better approaches, supported by their cohort in a collegiate approach to business improvement.

The secret to successful project management is to select a project which is going to be a success. As a project manager in the environment described above you have to work really hard to fail, because however you list the tasks, dates and budgets the real purpose of project management is not about compiling to-do-lists but about ensuring consensus, collaboration and commitment.


The above may be obvious, as indeed may be the observations on poor leadership on project management. A command and control, authoritative or overly-directive style will kill thinking and innovation.

Steve Jobs is alleged to have said “Don’t hire talented people and tell them what to do” .

If the retort from a leadership frustrated with lack of progress is that people need direction because they are not talented, motivated, educated (or lack competence, capacity or desire) they are wrong.

The goal of leadership should not to direct the people but to create the environment where people can grow. The role of a leader is to create other leaders.

If the leadership creates the environment and through coaching, training, support or mentoring is able to motivate and engage the people the role of the project manager is easy and the success of the project is inevitable.  

Delivery is a function of Competence, Capacity, Confidence and Desire

Competence is a function of education and experience

Capacity is a function of resource management

Desire is a function a responsibility and opportunity

Confidence is a function of trust

All the above can be created and developed through a change programme delivering coaching, training, support or mentoring, and all this can be deployed to deliver projects.

If these elements are not present people, simply “keep their heads down” and do nothing pending an instruction from the boss. Inevitably therefore the leadership is the cause for failure even if the error or omission is manifest with the person who has failed to deliver.

How can a project manager deliver any project successfully in this type of environment? 


This is very difficult, but in such circumstances it becomes important for the project manager to become a project leader and to provide the type of support and encouragement that I have experienced from great CEOs.

The challenge will be to do this without undermining the boss, or be accused of getting involved in areas (people development) that are outside of the project (product delivery)

Informal social groups can help, as can workshops, which are ostensibly about problem solving (a project task) but are actually about skills development (a people task). The additional benefit of a workshop approach is that it can become a collective and collaborative “self-help” group. However, caution should be exercised so this is not divisive or become a whinging session about what can’t be done rather than be project and outcome focussed on what can be done.

Additionally, informal coaching, by lending-a-hand or simply asking “how are things going” can appear to be about getting a task done whereas the objective is about listening, offering support, trust and respect.

This is hard, and it is difficult if you are the project manager who is having to fill a coaching role, but it is essential if the alternative is to let the project crash-and-burn because the people are not engaged or frankly too scared to do anything.


Tim Rogers is an experienced Management Consultant, Project and Change Leader. He is also Commonwealth Triathlete and World Championships Rower and a Tutor/Mentor on the Chartered Management Institute.

Sunday, 4 June 2017



There are different styles of leadership (see list below) and some have legitimacy in certain circumstances.

1.       The coercive style. ...
2.       The authoritative style. ...
3.       The affiliative style. ...
4.       The democratic style. ...
5.       The pacesetting style. ...
6.       The coaching style.

For more information see Goleman


I would warn that the coercive style is just bullying: This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

If the aim is to control a problem then check that people agree there is a “problem”, and that there is consensus that this is the best approach.

You’ll win support of your team if the intent is to deal with someone who is undermining the team, working against key values or indeed being a bully. You’ll create distrust if you’re the one being the bully and picking on someone who is valued by the team, or who is acting in accordance with the organisational values.

For example if your organisations’ values are like Starbucks (below) its wise not to remonstrate with someone who is “challenging the status quo” or discussing issues as part of “connecting with transparency”

1.       Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
2.       Acting with courage, challenging the status quo.
3.       Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
4.       Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
5.       We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.


In school people are advised…” if the bully says or does something to you”

1.       Ignore the bully. If you can, try your best to ignore the bully's threats. ...
2.       Stand up for yourself. Pretend to feel really brave and confident. ...
3.       Don't bully back. ...
4.       Don't show your feelings. ...
5.       Tell an adult.

This is more complex in the work-place, particularly if the bully is a boss.

You may not be able to ignore them if they are the boss. Standing up for yourself could be insubordination. You may not have an “adult” you can tell: Your colleagues may offer sympathy but they are unlikely to stick their neck out.  I know many HR people who will diligently listen, offer you advice, and then do nothing themselves because they don’t want to rock the boat.


I have always followed this advice…

1.       Ask for time to think - it should force a pause or moment of silence.
2.       Think about what you want to happen - don’t fight back, think forward.
3.       Get the bully to stop yelling - “Please speak more slowly, I’d like to understand” or (if on the phone) say nothing until they ask “Are you still there?”
4.       What-ever you do don’t explain - think forward, don’t justify, recriminate, excuse or offer explanation. They’re looking to exploit weaknesses (-) not strength (+)
5.       Ask “what would you like me to do?”. If so challenged they will ask you for something more acceptable than what they want. This is your exit opportunity.
6.       Don’t take criticism personally - attacks on your team, your work, your values, etc. are not attacks on you. Although it is hard to resist “fight or flight”
7.       Learn from criticism - if you wait 24 hrs before answering criticism it will demonstrate maturity, reasonableness and you may learn something!


There is however a different approach that you might take. There is a theory that there are three key roles in any situation…

·         VILLAIN
·         VICTIM
·         HERO

When we live in the drama triangle, we see the other person as our  adversary — the villain. If only  they  would change, we reason, things  would be fine.  They  stand between us and happiness. Ironically, they  are usually thinking the same thing about us. To resolve conflict, we  need to relinquish our roles as victim, villain and hero and work with  the other person to solve the problem. 

We must meet the other person in the middle. This means telling them our story (in a way they will be able to hear it) and listening to  their story with curiosity. Such open communication fosters mutual understanding. This understanding provides a doorway through which we can exit the drama triangle and enter into the  circle of resolution. 

I would however concede that this is easier said than done because “telling them our story” is a direct contradiction of “What-ever you do don’t explain” . Trying to justify yourself to a bully unlikely  going to work.

For more information


Tim Rogers is a Qualified Change Practitioner and PRINCE2 Project Manager, with an MBA in Management Consultancy. Past projects have included the incorporation of Ports of Jersey and Operations Change and Sales Support for RBSI and NatWest. He is a tutor/lecturer for the Chartered Management Institute. 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The recipe approach to make culture

In an earlier blog I suggested that it should be possible to Codify culture. I think it can be as simple as a recipe of factors (environment, peer group, education, common goal) and practice: ostensibly  “fake it till you make it”

See earlier blog

I then suggested that in successive blogs I would explain the recipe of factors and how to bring them together to make culture.


Lane4, the management consultancy which uses Olympians and other sports people to talk about plans, strategy, team-work was set-up by Olympian Adrian Moorehouse. Their philosophy is based on a motto “The aim of this establishment is to create an environment where champions are inevitable” and when you look at managers, coaches, physios, and the competitive and collaborative processes, plus the use of data (watts, power, speed, timings, bio-mechanics, heart-rate) it is clear that a centre and pursuit of excellence leaves nothing to chance.

The Cultural Web identifies six interrelated elements that help to make up what Johnson and Scholes call the "paradigm" – the pattern or model – of the work environment. By analyzing the factors in each, you can begin to see the bigger picture of your culture: what is working, what isn't working, and what needs to be changed. The six elements are:

STORIES – The past events and people talked about inside and outside the company. Who and what the company chooses to immortalize says a great deal about what it values, and perceives as great behavior.

RITUALS AND ROUTINES – The daily behavior and actions of people that signal acceptable behavior. This determines what is expected to happen in given situations, and what is valued by management.

SYMBOLS – The visual representations of the company including logos, how plush the offices are, and the formal or informal dress codes.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE – This includes both the structure defined by the organization chart, and the unwritten lines of power and influence that indicate whose contributions are most valued.

CONTROL SYSTEMS – The ways that the organization is controlled. These include financial systems, quality systems, and rewards (including the way they are measured and distributed within the organization.)

POWER STRUCTURES – The pockets of real power in the company. This may involve one or two key senior executives, a whole group of executives, or even a department. The key is that these people have the greatest amount of influence on decisions, operations, and strategic direction.

Finally, a lot of my work with Island Games, Commonwealth Games and working with businesses helping people and process development is based on Robert Dilts model “I can do that here”

See blog

Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all approach nor a standard set of ingredients, but there are common themes and I’d like to explore the following in future blogs.

Ingredient  No1: Environment
Ingredient  No2: Behaviour
Ingredient  No3: Capability
Ingredient  No4: Belief
Ingredient  No5 : The Individual

The above assume you already have the people (good, bad, happy or sad) and that you aim to change culture by leadership and management and are not in a position to build culture by selective recruitment.


If you are in a position to build culture by selective recruitment, then I highly recommend three excellent blogs by Dr. Cameron Sepah [Clinical Professor at UCSF Medical School. Startup & VC Advisor] and strongly recommend these for anyone interested in change/leadership psychology

Your Company's Culture is Who You Hire, Fire, & Promote: Part 1, The Performance-Values Matrix

Your Company Culture Is Who You Hire, Fire, & Promote: Part 2, Anatomy of an Asshole

Breaking Bad: Why Good People Become Evil Bosses

If you have experience of this, or would like to made a contribution to my next blog please contact me: timhjrogers@adaptconsultingcompany.com


Tim Rogers is an experienced Management Consultant, Project and Change Leader. He is also Commonwealth Triathlete and World Championships Rower and a Tutor/Mentor on the Chartered Management Institute.