Five Tool Managers

In the world of leadership blogs encouraging managers to be leaders, I have a tiny niche where I encourage project managers to develop consulting skills.  This week, to balance my tendency to be a non-conformist with how most people look at things, I’ve been thinking I need to put all the leadership, management, and consulting skills into context with one another.  Maybe you will add my little niche idea to the more obvious links between project management and leadership if I can come up with a good sports analogy and a cool managerial model.  So, here’s the “Five Tool Player” model for successful management of projects and organizations.

A superior baseball player is often called a “Five Tool Player.”  This player excels at:

  • Hitting for average
  • Hitting for power
  • Running bases with speed
  • Throwing
  • Fielding

The epitome of five tool players is generally thought to be Willie Mays.  Mays is near the top of all these categories for all time.  Also, Willie Mays’ had an inspiring good natured approach to the game that drew respect and admiration.  Willie put it all together to make his team and his organization more successful.

How do we become the Willie Mays of project managers?  We should aspire to develop five skills as well.  Here’s a picture:

Here’s more on the five skills:

Integration and Judgment – knowing when and how much of each skill to apply depending on the situation and needs of the organization.

Leadership – setting a direction and engaging people in a way that brings their best efforts and commitment to it.

Management – providing structure, planning, organization, and control to operations and production work and the people who are doing it.

Project Management – delivering unique and clearly defined changes to products, services, or processes within time and cost constraints.

Consulting – understanding and facilitating solutions to problems and changing operations in ways that improve results.

Every management situation needs doses of leadership, management, project management, and consulting skills.  And managers have to apply judgment to effectively integrate the skills in their situation.  Consider these examples:

  • Have you been in an organization with strong leadership but with unproductive, ill-defined, and inconsistent structure and processes?  Here, leaders need more management and consulting.

Project managers can more productively deliver a leadership inspired initiative by setting a good management example of structure, planning, organization, and control; and by consulting to identify ongoing structure and process that may need to change to achieve project outcomes.

  • Have you been in an organization where production work is efficiently delivered but projects to create new systems or processes can’t get traction?  Here, managers need better leadership, project management, and consulting.

Project managers can get more traction by consulting with leadership and managers on the changes needed to integrate project delivery with ongoing work. 

I think that project managers have the most to gain from the “Five Tool Player” model.  Project managers have to secure a vision, engage people, create a new organization that fits into a larger one, meet tight constraints, and understand and solve problems quickly.  Project managers lead and manage and consult.  Their unique teams and environments require them to integrate and adapt their project management skills with the other skills to meet the situation.  This takes awareness, experience, and judgment.

So, project managers, it’s time to step up to bat and be a five tool player.  Put all the skills together, and you might hit a home run.

Thanks for reading.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2012 Glenn Briskin and “The Other Side of Risk.”

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