Youth: Learning to Lead

Learning to Lead Photo

The global economy will need 25 million additional project professionals by 2030, according to the PMI Talent Gap report. To meet this demand, 2.3 million people will need to enter project management-oriented employment every year. And not just any people. Organizations need individuals with key leadership skills in addition to the knowledge and expertise essential for helping a company achieve positive project outcomes.

Leadership skills can be developed throughout one’s career journey. But it doesn’t hurt to get started early. Many folks have heard about the three R’s—a phonetic acronym for “reading writing and ’rithmetic.” In the world of projects, these R’s also refer to critical project leadership skills: relationship building, rigor and relevance.

In the classroom, it is imperative for students to experience opportunities to lead, which fundamentally starts with the art of building relationships within a team. Success in later years hinges on the strength of this skill.

  1. Relationship building—Connecting team members together to form positive relationships

    In everyday life, regardless of age, relationships are a key ingredient to individual well-being. To feel successful as individuals, we all need to connect with each other and work to achieve a common goal.

    Teaching students the importance of creating a culture that favors positive relationships is at the core of establishing a foundation for a successful future as a project leader. For students, fostering positive relationships usually starts with building friendships. From there, teachers can be instrumental in promoting a good sense of community within a student-led project team, one which can extend outward to other stakeholders.

    Once students enter a workplace, relationship-building skills are essential for getting along with coworkers, contributing to a team and successfully collaborating.

  2. Relevance—Becoming closely connected to the matter at hand

    What is the relevance of a project, and why is it important for students and emerging young leaders to learn how it can impact their future success?

    In short, project relevance is a statement of what benefits will be gained from a project as well as what potential problems might be resolved with its success.

    When incorporated into youth education, teaching students to understand and apply project relevance is a powerful tool they can leverage in the future. Not only will they learn to offer their project stakeholders a short, concise explanation of why a project has been initiated, but also why it is critical that it continues. Project relevance enables project leaders to identify and communicate who will benefit from a successful project outcome as well as why it is required.

  3. Rigor—Being extremely thorough and accurate

    Rigor increases with project size, level of risk, complexity of the solution and cost. For example, the bigger a project budget is, the more risk there is, and more rigor should be applied to elements such as project documentation and management. This is where sound project leadership skills can be the make-or-break factor in a project’s success.

When youth learn how to develop and leverage relationship building, relevance and rigor early on, they are better prepared to become effective project leaders. These “three R’s” are skills students can take from the classroom into the real world with confidence and enthusiasm. Learn how PMIEF grants are helping schools bring valuable project management skills to tomorrow’s leaders in a short video, Learning to Lead Like a Project Manager.

Digital Exclusive article developed for Project Management Institute, Inc. by staff content writer Deryn Zakielarz.


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