As with any worthwhile construction project, you begin with a framework.

A service-based Project Leader is different from a Project Manager.

The framework for leadership equips you to use intuition, good judgement and experience to make positive events occur.

Your leap from Project Manager to service-based Project Leader benefits customers, stakeholders, team members and society as they all experience a changed world, one project at a time.

Your framework is the Service-Based Project Leader’s Competency Pyramid. It is designed to enable you to bring passion, compassion, patience, persistence, and new ideas into your projects, instead of just pert charts, critical paths, input milestones, or parametric estimates.

The pyramid framework is focused on building

  • Competence in project management tools and techniques
  • Competence in project application area
  • Trust
  • Shared leadership and decision-making
  • Action

Why a pyramid?

The base of the pyramid is a leader’s project and programme management knowledge, skill and experience.

These three elements are tightly integrated and exist in the form of certifications and experience on various types of projects and with various tools, methodologies, and systems.

The base must continually expand if the pyramid is to grow wider and taller. From this base, project managers can launch successful careers as service-based project leaders.

The second layer of the pyramid is subject matter expertise. Subject matter expertise is domain expertise and knowledge of particular industries, applications, or processes.

The service-based project leader’s customer focus and transformational intent require that you understand the business of your customers—all of your customers.

Complexity and compressing timeframes require project leaders to gain credibility quickly; customers do not have the patience to educate you on their business.

Another critical part of both foundational layers is a well-rounded knowledge of leadership
The third component of the pyramid is trust-based relationships, which you must form with all types of customers—Team Members, Sponsors, and important Stakeholders.

Entering into trust-based relationships takes time. Your strong base of project and program management knowledge, skill, experience and customer insight provides a foundation for the remaining layers of the pyramid.

The fourth layer of the pyramid is consultative leadership, which emerges directly out of trust-based relationships. Consultative leadership is the ability to lead others without direct authority.

You will be a successful service-based Project Leader when you leave your team members more autonomous, capable, productive and generally better off than before their interaction with you.

Courage is the mortar that keeps the bricks of the pyramid together. The higher you work up the pyramid, the more courage is required.

The challenge for the service-based project leader is balancing the layers of leadership competencies in order to face your unique challenges. Balancing the strengths of the layers against each other builds a stable pyramid.

If certain layers are disproportionate to others, your effectiveness is diminished.

Building yourself as a leader using the leadership competency pyramid is not a finite task, but a lifelong endeavour.

About the Author

Jack Ferraro is the founder of MyProjectAdvisor, a project management services company. He has 25 years of experience working with project teams and extensive experience managing complex enterprise technology and business process improvement projects.

Jack is also the author of two project management books, The Strategic Project Leader: Mastering Service-based Project Leadership and Project Management for Non-Project Managers, published in 2012.