In People Skills, Project Management

Titanic Lessons in Project Leadership

What we can learn from the Titanic CentenaryThe story of the Titanic has captivated people for the past 100 years. It stirs our curiosity and emotions and it is still amazing to think that what was then the largest ship in the world, and believed to be unsinkable, could face such a disastrous ending. So how did it all go so wrong? And what can be learnt from this tragedy.

My new book, a part of the ‘Lessons from History’ series, is due out next week. It’s called Titanic Lessons in Project Leadership and looks at how seemingly ‘small’ and easily overlooked people and communication issues can build into big mistakes if they are not recognised and managed.

Titanic has given us a valuable legacy. From its fate we learn what can happen when we overlook the impact of powerful personalities, underlying perceptions, a lack of clear communication, and tensions amongst the teams. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear why it is critical that project managers and leaders have the skills to deal effectively with people issues, and shows what we can learn to make our projects and programmes more successful today.

Acknowledging the tendency, when faced with challenging deadlines and daily pressures, to focus on just getting the task done, the book stresses the dangers of this approach. The difficult conversations with upset stakeholders and disgruntled customers can’t be sidestepped and leaders need to gain the skills to approach these with confidence.

I’ve used the people aspects of the tragic Titanic story to describe the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of human communication and leadership, highlighting the practices that can make a vital difference to the success of projects.

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