Point 7 – Deming in Project Management

Teach and Institute Leadership

leadershipIt is the age-old distinction that usually merits much lip service and little true implementation. There is supervision/management, and then there is leadership. Project managers can either be supervisors or leaders, regardless of their job title.

Supervising/managing is simply overseeing and directing work. If you know everything about PMBOK and other methodologies, but practice project management like a robot within that knowledge, you are supervising, not leading. Another interpretation is a primary tactical focus with the long-term picture being a secondary consideration, if that.

Leadership is providing guidance to help employees to their jobs better with less effort. It’s all the elements of training, example-setting, continuous improvement of systems, etc. together. You don’t have to be a charismatic person to be a great leader, there is much more to it than dynamism and likability. You do have to do the above, and have a long-term lens through which you look at everything you and your teams do.

Organizations who want to have great leaders as project managers should be training them to be great leaders, so in a way this is a correlate of Point 6. Part of the training regimen needs to be leadership. Upper management needs to consist of people who are lifelong learners and students of leadership philosophy. They should be passing down that knowledge to their project managers and other employees in a formalized manner, and on a regular basis.

(Back to Deming’s 14 Points)

References and Resources

Managing for Quality and Performance Excellence
Deming and Goldratt
Out of the Crisis
The Deming Management Method
The New Economics
Four Days with Dr. Deming
Deming Route to Quality and Productivity
Deming The Way We Knew Him

About the author


JoshNankivel Josh Nankivel is a Project Planning & Controls Control Account Manager and contractor for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. His academic background includes a BS in Project Management, summa cum laude.  He can be found writing and contributing in many places within the project management community, and his primary project management website is located at pmstudent.com.

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