LSA Global Insights Newsletter: Five Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader

4.30.2012

Five Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader

As Project Leaders, we rarely think that we are the Captain of the project version of the Titanic or that the problem lies with us. 

We blame any problems on our teams, clients, stakeholders, sponsors, or other external factors-not on ourselves. 

The story of the Titanic is an interesting example of how the blame game can work. Though up to now the Titanic's Captain (project leader) has taken much of the blame for the collision and 1,523 deaths, there has since been a lot of finger pointing in other directions. 

Some scientists recently arrived at a new theory that a full moon caused the disaster rather than the Captain. National Geographic's Richard A. Lovett wrote in March, "That full moon, on January 4, 1912, may have created unusually strong tides that sent a flotilla of icebergs southward-just in time for Titanic's maiden voyage." 

One historian believes that the chairman of Titanic's owner (a key project sponsor and stakeholder), the White Star Line, persuaded the Captain to continue sailing after encountering problems and is the main culprit for the tragedy. 

Yet another book on the subject claims that the Titanic had plenty of time to dodge the iceberg but the collision was the result of a helmsman (a project team member) who turned the ship the wrong way after misinterpreting instructions. 

These theories could all shift the blame away from Captain Edward John Smith. However, regardless of the true cause of the disaster, as a Captain and project leader, it is your responsibility to:
  • Plan for "a flotilla of icebergs."
  • Ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page.
  • Create the circumstances of success for your team.
Unfortunately, you do not have the luxury of waiting for a 100-year anniversary to be saved by alternative theories of your project's demise. So What Should You Do? 


Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned