Leadership vs. Management with Susanne Madsen

"You manage tasks but you lead people."

As a project manager, you lead projects and teams. Or do you manage them? What is the difference, actually? And will knowing the difference help you to be a better project manager? In this episode, Brett speaks with internationally recognized project leadership coach, trainer and consultant Susanne Madsen. Their conversation focuses in on a topic that many PMs and managers tend to focus in on: How to be a great leader. They also discuss Susanne's book The Power of Project Leadership, which is now in its second edition and is up for a PMI award, and the themes within, including:

  • Leadership vs. management
  • The path to leadership
  • The mistakes project managers make:
  • Encouraging leadership
  • Finding time to level-up

Resources discussed in this episode:

About our guest


Susanne Madsen
Program and Project Manager, Mentor, and Coach

Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognized project leadership coach, trainer and consultant. She is the author of The Power of Project Leadership (now in 2nd edition) and The Project Management Coaching Workbook. Working with organizations across the globe she delivers leadership development programs and executive coaching to help project and change managers step up and become better leaders.

Prior to setting up her own business, Susanne worked in the corporate sector leading high-profile programs of up to $30 million for organizations such as Standard Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. She is a fully qualified Corporate and Executive coach, an NLP Practitioner, DISC accredited and a regular contributor to the Association for Project Management (APM).

Susanne is the Founder and Director of Susanne Madsen International Ltd which is a UK company governed by English law.​ ​

The Power of Project Leadership - now in a fully revised 2nd edition - has been described as "inspiring" and "a must-read for everyone in the project world". It brings together decades of know-how on the "soft side" of program and project leadership into and accessible structure. It has been translated into Chinese and can be ordered from all major bookstores. ​

​Susanne's first book The Project Management Coaching Workbook has been described as "by far the most well written book I have read not only on the subject of Project Management but also from a Get Things Done perspective." ​

In 2017 Susanne also co-founded The Project Leadership Institute, which is dedicated to building authentic project leaders by engaging the heart, the soul and the mind. You can read more about the transformational leadership programs from The Project Leadership Institute here.

Follow Susanne on Twitter.

Episode Transcript


Brett Harned:       Hey, welcome to Time Limit. This is your host, Brett Harned. And I've got a question for you. Are you a manager or a leader? Think about that for a second. You might be thinking, "Well, what's the difference? Or, "How can I level up in my career from being a PM to a project leader?" And if you're asking those questions, it's a good thing because it means you're looking to advance. And it just so happens that we're discussing those topics on the episode today with Susanne Madsen. Who's a program and project manager, mentor and coach with experience in managing and rolling out major change programs.

Brett Harned:       I first saw Susanne present at the deliver conference in Manchester, UK. And I recently read her book, The Power Of Project Leadership. She's got a great way of framing this conversation around management versus leadership and what it takes to become a great leader. So check it out. All right, Susanne, thank you so much for joining me on Time Limit this week. How are you doing?

Susanne Madsen:     I'm good, thank you. And thank you for having me.

Brett Harned:       Absolutely. And I want to say congratulations on your book, The Power Of Project Leadership, Seven Keys To Help You Transform From Project Manager To Project Leader went into its second edition back in September and was recently nominated for a PMI award. That's so exciting.

Susanne Madsen:     Yes, I am actually very excited too. And generally, because it's a second edition, I guess that it's a little while ago, 2015, since the first edition came out, but I'm super excited about the second one because to be given the opportunity as an author to update it with all the stuff I've learned in the proceeding five, four and a half, five years is I'm almost too good to be true. So I jumped at that opportunity.

Brett Harned:       That's excellent. People should definitely check it out. I read it right before we got ready for this interview. And I really want to kind of talk through some of the themes in the book, because I do think that leadership is a topic that we talk about within project management, but maybe one that not all PMs necessarily embrace. But I also don't want to give away the seven keys, right? Because there's plenty of other things to talk about and I want to make sure that people read the book. So maybe we could start with kind of the conversation around management versus leadership, which you do discuss in the very beginning of the book. Would you mind kind of sharing your opinion on the difference between the two?

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah, sure.

Susanne Madsen:     It is a personal place to start because we are, as you're saying, talking about how to transform from manager to leader. Before we go into the differences, I also want to say that actually there are overlaps. And I'm not necessarily saying that one is worse or better than the others, because people sometimes get the wrong end of the stick. Having said that, with my caveats, we could tend to say that management is more task oriented. So thinking about in the project management space, I have certain skills, certain knowledge. And I use that to do things right, so there's a right or a wrong. And if you think about it, also, we estimate effort and we calculate duration. It's all very rational. That's kind of been the management side of things. And as a manager, I use my skills and knowledge to help people get things right and therefore, I instruct others because accuracy could be important. And as I said, that's kind of traditionally in the management space. And of course, we like managers who are cognitively quite intelligent, that doesn't harm anyone, that's good.

Susanne Madsen:     But now if we look in contrast over to leadership, it's much more people oriented. So it's not so important what my knowledges is or what my skills are, because I don't need that knowledge to instruct others. Instead, it's about my attitudes and behaviors because I can use that both to lead from the front and lead from behind. When I lead from the front, it's about showing the way and inspiring the team to follow and setting up the vision. When I lead from behind, that's when I need the ability to connect with others, to understand what motivates each person. So it's a very different ball game. You see, there's no right or wrong here. It's much more about my emotional intelligence. And in fact, that's one of the big differentiators between the two.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, I can definitely see that. And thank you for for saying that there is crossover because I think someone might be sitting there thinking, "I feel like I've got those skills and I'm still just a manager." Not just a manager, but I do think that there's crossover there. But one of the things that I'm kind of interested in digging into a little bit further here is kind of the path into leadership for PM's. So you kind of described management as kind of more tactical, whereas, leadership is more visionary, I guess. So is the path into leadership for a PM, is that within project manager as a PM? Or is that the path up the ladder within an organization to a kind of a higher level role? You know, I guess I'm trying to figure out, do you do progress into leadership position or do you progress into that way of thinking?

Susanne Madsen:     So good question. The way I see it as leadership is not really a function, necessarily, of what you do. So it's not necessarily aligned with your job role. So you can have a CEO of a large organization who is a bad leader, but who is an excellent manager, But it could be somebody who is micromanaging and you could have a parent. You can have somebody who is in involved in the voluntary organization and they demonstrate leadership skills.

Brett Harned:       Absolutely.

Susanne Madsen:     And the way I like to simplify management versus leadership is also, you manage tasks but you lead people. So each function, let's say a project manager, yes, you need the management skills. That's why I'm emphasizing, I'm not making management bad, because we need the planning, we need the risk management and we need the estimation and the calculations. But with all the people involved, it's people who deliver projects after all, that's when we really need the leadership skills.

Brett Harned:       Absolutely.

Brett Harned:       So do you think that it's normal for a PM to stay in a more management focused role and not move into leadership? Like maybe leadership is not for everyone?

Susanne Madsen:     I coached quite a few product managers and it also depends whether they are more inclined to go in the management side or the leadership side. Also depends on their personality profile and it depends on the background. Because technical project managers pride themselves with knowing a lot of stuff about the topic. And it's very hard for them to let go of that because that's what they know and that's what they use. So yes and no.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, there's no absolute answer to that, right?

Susanne Madsen:     With maturity, hopefully many project managers become to see the most strategic angles. How can I add value rather than just taking things off the list? And I would also like to think that some project managers stay in project management even as they mature. I wouldn't want product managers to just exit project management and take on a more sexy leadership role as head of an organization or head of a department thinking that project management can't offer those opportunities because there are some large change programs that requires some very senior people to lead them.

Brett Harned:       That makes tons of sense. Thanks for clarifying that.

Brett Harned:       So I think one of the things that I want to touch on are you talk a little bit about kind of three fundamental mistakes PMs make. And it feels like before really kind of getting to a leadership level, a PM kind of has to own up to those mistakes. So I kind of want to talk through the three that you outlined. And the first one is managing tasks at the expense of leading people. And that's really about focusing on the team and utilizing or building on soft skills. And so right before we started recording, we were talking about the PMI global conference, which I attended a few weeks ago in Philadelphia. And someone at the conference, I wish I could remember who it was, mentioned that soft skills should be called power skills instead. Because you need those skills to succeed and really to kind of have that power within a project. And that feels really aligned to what you're saying here in the book. But I'm wondering if you might talk a little bit about what soft skills or behaviors are apparent in great leaders.

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah, power skills. I haven't had that in this context before but it makes a lot of sense. And we normally say the soft skills are really the hard ones because although you can develop them throughout your life, and hopefully you will, we also need to be conscious and actually work with it. So yeah, power skills, why not?

Brett Harned:       Right. It was the first time I heard it, too. I found it really interesting though, because I agree with you. I think the soft skills are absolutely needed to be a great PM, but definitely to be a great leader as well. So anyway, I'll let you talk. Thanks.

Susanne Madsen:     So your question was what are some of those soft skills that we would like to see in product leaders and leaders.

Brett Harned:       Right.

Susanne Madsen:     So I think it's time that we delve a little bit more into the emotional intelligence piece. Because as I said before, on the management side, we can be very cognitively intelligent. And of course, leaders can be and hopefully are cognitively intelligent too, but they have this emotional intelligence piece. And to simplify it, I will say there really are two sides to it. On the one hand, it's about how I can manage my own emotions and respond appropriately to situations. And on the other hand, is about how I can understand others, how I can build relationships with others, how I can empathize with others, inspire others, et cetera.

Susanne Madsen:     So if we take the first one and look at how I can monitor and regulate my own responses, I would like, perhaps you and the listeners, to think about great leaders that come across and who they were. And whether those great leaders were able to manage their own emotions or whether they had like outbursts of anger or if they were saying and behaving inappropriately. And we don't tend to have role models who act inappropriately, but we can probably also think about some managers we work with who just lost it or they got angry or they shouted or whatever they did, hopefully not too many.

Susanne Madsen:     So the ability to manage our own emotions is very, very important as a leader because we want other people to emulate us. We want to set a good example, lead by example. How can you expect your team to show these and demonstrates appropriate soft skills if you're not demonstrating them yourself? So this is about looking inwards and constantly working with yourself to create awareness. It's not easy because we all get triggered by certain situations. So for instance, imagine you have a team member who doesn't do what he or she said they were going to do and it's the third time.

Susanne Madsen:     How do we respond? We can definitely be assertive and we should hold them to account. But we begin to shout or to use abusive language, that sort of stuff is just not acceptable. So on the other side of emotional intelligence, which may be easier to relate to some people, it's this whole idea of understanding others, empathizing with others. Because we need to build great relationships, we need to motivate others and build great relationships with stakeholders. So those soft skills there are a bit different. They're about listening, asking questions, having patience. Because I need patience to actually ask others and engage others in the conversation. Not just want to listen to myself. So I said a lot there. So over to you for your comments on this.

Brett Harned:       No, that's great. I think it's kind of this idea of wanting to help people to succeed but also wanting to motivate people based on what you know about them. So it's this idea that you're not just focused on the tasks and that's what the mistake is in the book, right? Managing tasks at the expense of leading people. You don't want to be the box checker PM, that's a huge mistake because then you're completely leaving out the fact that people are completing those tasks. And if you're not thinking about how that makes them feel, the pressure that they're under and how you're approaching them about those things, then you're letting the tasks win and not the people. And I think a lot of PMs do make that mistake because they get so caught up in the pressure of just delivering that they don't think about how they should connect with the people who are doing the work in order to get the most and kind of best work product out of them.

Susanne Madsen:     Absolutely. And when the crisis is on, we tend to be down, get stuff done. We forget to communicate with the guests and look up. We get to ask questions, we just become directive.

Brett Harned:       Exactly. And team members do the same thing, let's be honest. But it is the expectation that the project manager is kind of going to sit in the middle and really help to sort out challenges or issues, clear them so that the team can get the work done successfully. I think that's all to say and you'll agree with this, is that it's a really tough job. It really is.

Brett Harned:       Okay. So let's move on to the second mistake. So the second mistake is focusing on the urgent rather than the important. And my guess is that many project managers have a hard time distinguishing between the two because projects and people get so intense that everything seems urgent and everything seems important at times. So how do you distinguish between the two?

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah, I like this topic because, as you're saying, it's quite common and it's a time waster. And so perhaps there's different angles to this, I would say. Perhaps I have three different categories that I would put tasks into and, of course, it's a simplification, but there is firefighting. We all understand firefighting. There is a certain amount of it, there's crisis, there's deadlines we didn't have time to work on before. It's urgent issues, urgent queries, conflict, all of that is firefighting. And it might be odd, sorry, it might be important, it might not be important. Certainly if it's approaching the deadline, yes, but I think what's important here is that it's a vicious circle. It's a vicious circle because the more time I spend firefighting, the less time I have for being proactive and for working on those tasks that will help me next week. The week after in a year's time.

Susanne Madsen:     But there's a psychological aspect here, which is why we are so drawn to firefighting. And I think there's a hero mentality. Because a lot of people go to work and they want to feel that they've done something great that day. They want to feel that they've accomplished something, that they're needed. And when we work on stuff in the future, like we plan, or we don't see the benefits of what we're doing straight away, we're not really sure that we added any value that day, although we actually did. But when I put out a fire, when I help somebody and I run to the rescue and I can use my great technical knowledge to sort out somebody or sort out a situation, then I feel that I did something that day. So that's why I think it's very interesting psychologically and it's really a vicious, vicious circle.

Susanne Madsen:     So then there is a second category, which is just unimportant stuff, it's just time wasting. You get interrupted, you attend meetings you shouldn't attend, you multitask, and you really lose momentum as you multitask. And maybe you're so exhausted doing stuff that you just want to waste your time. You go to the water cooler and you just try to govern unimportant conversation because you just had enough. And that's all unimportant stuff.

Susanne Madsen:     And then the third category is really the proactive activities, which is what I would call important strategic activities. This is planning, this is mitigating risk, it's all the stuff that project management is made of, defining the project. And something that I'm talking about more and more, which is defining the team. When we kick off a project, we're so good at talking about what needs to be delivered because we have to. But we're not very good at talking about how we are going to work together. What do we expect from each other? What behaviors do we expect from each other? That is an important activity that will help me toward strategic objectives and the strategic goals of the project. So there's all that about empowering the team. Innovation can also be important. So I started to give you one definition for what's important and what is not, but I'm hoping that we're going in the right direction with this.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, I think so. I think what I'm getting, even kind of just building on the first mistake, is that some PM's are too focused on tasks and managing to a plan, right? Whereas, you're looking, or maybe not you're looking for, but in leadership, it's more about having a more global view and making sure that you're being able to focus on the future, not just the right now. Does that make sense?

Susanne Madsen:     Yes.

Brett Harned:       Okay. So I think what's really interesting about your book, that I really love, is that you've got little exercises throughout. And there's an exercise kind of for this, attached to this. But I'm wondering, and I think people should check that out, but I'm wondering if, for listeners now, if you've got any tips to help them on focusing on the important things and kind of pushing back on those urgent things. Are there any things that you think people should do to kind of help with that?

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah. So I guess, again, there's multiple aspects to this. There is, because I once worked for an organization that was inherently very reactive and there was a lot of bad planning going on, so that impacted the team. So it was not necessarily something I was in control of. So perhaps we should start looking at or start this answer by looking at what can I, as an individual, do with my own workload? And one question that I really like that people should ask themselves on a regular basis, am I being productive or am I just active? Because there's a very big difference between just doing stuff and doing stuff that's productive. And that obviously circles back to what we said a moment ago. And it also sometimes is because we are procrastinating getting on with the important.

Susanne Madsen:     Right in that business case, having that challenging or difficult conversation, giving feedback to a team member, that's all important. But maybe I'm not so keen on doing it because I'm uncomfortable. And so I check lots of emails instead or I chat to somebody else or I do other things that means I'm just being active. So I think that's one response. Another response, which I think or answer, which I think goes wider, is better planning. Some organizations are not very organized and they don't use project management the best way. And we can perhaps help, we as in all team members, project managers, you and I. We can help organizations to become more organized because planning is for this purpose. Planning, we plan so that we don't have to firefight, we plan so that we can try to predict. Not always, but so we can try to foresee what's around the corner so we don't have to deal with a crisis.

Susanne Madsen:     And then maybe a third little nugget, I will say before I stop talking, is the 80/20 rule. Because the 80/20 rule is one of the 20% of activities that I do during a day or during a week that add to 80% of my results. And I'm sure that your listeners have come across as this one before, but it's still relevant. When I asked myself that question many years ago, I realized that my weekly use of group meeting with my key stakeholders, that we had every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., was the one thing, the most important thing I did on a weekly basis that contributed to the results of the project. And once I realized that, I knew that this important activity I have to continue to do very well. That meant prepare for it, [inaudible] it really well, write up accurate minutes with actions and agreements. So there were a few answers. And again, I'm looking for your response if you feel we're going in the right direction with the question here.

Brett Harned:       Yeah, absolutely. I think I'm pretty much sitting here nodding my head, yes. I think, absolutely, a plan is going to help you to focus on the important things and do the firefighting when you need to. Because once you have a plan together, you've got an opportunity to kind of look at what's happening on your project and with the people on your project and find those things that could become urgent issues or risks eventually and kind of knock them out of the way before they do become urgent issues. So like having a plan is probably the best way to kind of just set a general expectation for how you think things will happen and what the priority of those things will be. So I absolutely agree with you on that.

Brett Harned:       Actually, I want to move onto the third mistake, if that's okay with you. And I have to say, Suzanne, you nailed these mistakes. Like every one of them are things that I think all of us have made in our careers as project managers. And thinking about them in this way, I think, hopefully helps people to kind of come up with methods to kind of move on and stop making those mistakes. So the third one is believing we have to know it all and do it all. And I think this is so common. I can remember, my background is in digital project management, and that means that I'm working with developers who are engineers who are working on really complex code that I don't know anything about. So I might have an understanding of how they do their work and I feel like I need that in order to manage that work, but I could never get into the code and make edits or even write code and have it work really well.

Brett Harned:       So I would never put myself in that position. But it's one of those tricky things where because technology is changing, innovations are happening and you want to encourage that within your team, it can be tough to really keep up. So I'm curious what you think, in terms of subject matter expertise, how much should a PM hold on their project? And of course this goes for every industry. Like there are project managers across the globe working on different types projects. What level of expertise do you need as a PM to sufficiently manage a project but also not feel like you have to know it all and do it all at the same time?

Susanne Madsen:     Yes. And thank you for sharing your own experiences. And I have similar experiences, I've worked in finance. I was running a very big project for an investment bank. It was all about risk management and I was not a risk management expert, we're talking financial risk. And it put me in an interesting situation. It was a multi year program where I had to consult, I had to draw it out of the stakeholders. I had to draw it out of the subject matter experts. It was uncomfortable for me because I really felt there was a lot that I didn't know. And I remember what one stakeholder was sayng to me at some point, he gave him feedback and he said, "You're such a good listener." And I thought, it's funny, because at that point I didn't see myself as a good listener but I had no other tool.

Susanne Madsen:     I had to listen, I had to consult. And I think that taught me a lot. So in answer to your question, we can be good product managers without having the detailed subject matter expertise. Of course we do need some knowledge and I think we need enough knowledge that we can question, we can understand when people are taking a make, when they're not being accountable for what they should be accountable for, et cetera, et cetera. It's difficult to say whether line is.

Susanne Madsen:     And another point I have on this topic is, more knowledge can be good, especially if you are running complex projects, not necessarily, but I think it can be an advantage. If you don't use the knowledge to just hear yourself speak, to just make all the decisions, to just direct the project. But if you use that knowledge to open up the conversation more to perhaps challenge the team to do more. So I think what I'm saying is if we have a lot of subject matter expertise and we can use it to create generally a better team and a better product, not through directing the troops, but by opening up the conversation I think is very valuable. But as you and I both know, the risk is that I'm a technical PM, I have the knowledge and I tell us what to do. That's the risk.

Brett Harned:       Right, yeah. It kind of goes back to the other kind of mistakes that you brought up in the book, but I agree with you. I think there's something to being a PM who has this curiosity about how things are done and why they're done. So that you can get a level of understanding to at least know what should be happening or how things should happen. But also to contribute to the conversation about how we can be better. And I think the flip side of that is, in my instance, I was always working with clients. So my stakeholders were always paying clients. So I had to go into meetings sometimes without one of those engineers and talk about why something took so long or why we need to do it in the way that we had it planned. And having just enough knowledge of that work was necessary for me to answer those questions.

Brett Harned:       But I also knew that I never wanted to speak on behalf of the team on something that I wasn't 100% positive on. And I think it's a really good thing to pull in a team member to have those conversations, to showcase their expertise and have them answer some of the hard questions for a lot of reasons. It's not only for building trust with stakeholders, but also making those folks a little more accountable for their work and why it takes so long and really kind of presenting and talking about it, is I think, a positive thing in an overall project experience too. So I think there's lots of benefits there to really just knowing a little bit, but knowing enough to get your team by, to make your stakeholders feel comfortable. And really for yourself to feel like you can manage things really well.

Susanne Madsen:     Also, the risk if you don't know enough is you cannot build credibility.

Brett Harned:       Absolutely. Which is huge in project management, right?

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah.

Brett Harned:       Building that trust is important. So even just, I think, even just sitting down with someone on your team and asking some simple questions about the work that they do or a deliverable or whatever it might be, that helps to build trust and credibility. So kind of owning up to what you don't know, listening, being a good listener, but also asking questions about things if you're not sure about them.

Susanne Madsen:     Which leads onto something else. And I know I'm not the questioner in this podcast.

Brett Harned:       That's okay.

Susanne Madsen:     But which is that whole area about vulnerability. Because so many people, managers, leaders, whatever, they have difficulties showing and opening up and asking when there's something they don't know because they feel they ought to know. And what does it say about me if I ask too many questions? It's that vulnerability piece. But what happens when we ask questions is we open up the door for others to step in. We tell people, inadvertenly, that I don't have all the answers. You don't need to have all the answers either. I'm not perfect, you don't have to be perfect either. There's so much there, which is really interesting for team dynamics.

Brett Harned:       I agree. And I think that it can build a positive team experience. Of course it depends on the personalities that you're working with, and it depends on the level or degree of questions that you're asking. I mean, obviously, if you're asking really basic questions then somebody might start to think, "Okay, what's this person doing here?" But I agree with you on the vulnerability thing. I think that's really important in project management. And not feeling like you have to answer for everything at all times. Not feeling like you have to be the subject matter expert because that's not what you're there to do.

Brett Harned:       You're you're there to manage overall and make sure that the team completes a project successfully. It's not all on your shoulders. And I think that's kind of what the point that you're making in the book is kind of coming down to.

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah.

Brett Harned:       Okay. I do a little bit of work in the project management community. I run a local meetup here in Philadelphia that I started years and years ago, started the digital project management community. And one of the things that I would love to do is to kind of give the community a little bit of a nudge into leadership. I'm wondering what you think about how we might encourage more leadership within the project management community?

Susanne Madsen:     First of all, I think the awareness level is better now than four, five, six years ago, certainly here in Europe. There are more conferences in England and in Europe now about product leadership as opposed to just product management. The APM, which I guess is here, a competitor to the PMI, the associate for project management. That, in particular, embraced leadership. So it's really good to see the big organizations. And I think the PMI, they started with a triangle, they changed the triangle. So leadership is now one of the three pillars there. So we need the large bodies, project management bodies to help here. And then at a more local level with us, what can we do? Well, continue to invite speakers in, do what we do, hear a podcast about it. Leadership development is obviously what organizations can do because that helps, leadership courses really help in that area.

Susanne Madsen:     I'm running one of them for a very senior bunch of project managers. It's in construction. And we've currently trained between 150 and 200, so I don't know if it's 160, 170, whatever. But we're running three courses a year. We're following these people for six months. We see them three times, we train them three days at the time for over a six month period. And they develop tremendously. And these guys, because they're mostly guys, there's a few ladies, they run the large construction projects. And it's a tough industry.

Susanne Madsen:     And doing the leadership development with them in a project context because they're not operations managers, they are project managers and program managers. Really, we see a change. We work with actors as well. So we help them to respond to challenging clients because that industry has some very tough contracts and some very tough clients. And we help them to put them in a situation where they get triggered to help them respond in different situations. So that really helps. That really helps because we do on the ground work with them. It's not just the two day course, it's nine days in total with all the followup. So yeah, all of those, I think, help.

Susanne Madsen:     My book, how could I forget to mention my book?

Brett Harned:       Absolutely your book.

Susanne Madsen:     Yeah.

Brett Harned:       And we'll have a link to your book in the show notes as well because we definitely want people to pick that up.

Brett Harned:       So I want to wrap up, but I have one final question for you and it's kind of what we're doing on the podcast. The theme or the title of the show is Time Limit, which is kind of nodding to the fact that we're really just doing the most with our time and the resources that we have. And I wonder if there are any tips that you might have for how project managers can kind of continue to level up their own leadership skills and knowledge when they're really stretched for time. Because let's face it, you always want to kind of get better at your job and progress in your career. But as a PM, you're always so focused on what's happening in the here and now. So do you have any tips for how people might go about doing that?

Susanne Madsen:     So I would ask the listeners when they are at work today or tomorrow to observe themselves in one particular way. How many questions are you asking? How many questions are you asking that's closed? Meaning you had a yes or no question, there's a yes or no answer to it. Try to ask more open questions. We run this little exercise in many of our trainings and people get surprised. "Oh, my God, I asked so many closed questions." And but just asking more open questions or asking more how questions or what if questions, because that's an open question. "How can we or what if? What if we will start all over? What if there were no constraints, what would we do differently?" They are all open questions.

Susanne Madsen:     So that's one thing people can do to to move forward. Asking for feedback is another big one because we can only get better if we understand what some of our blind spots are. And many people hold themselves back asking for feedback and it doesn't take long. It's not a difficult thing to do. It's just that we might be a bit uncomfortable. So people can ask, what should I start doing, stop doing and continue to do? Of people who they respect. Don't ask the stakeholder who you don't like for feedback, that's unnecessary. So there are two good ways of furthering leadership. There are many others, but if if we want to wrap up then.

Brett Harned:       Well those are really great because those are things that you can do in the moment. Those are things that you could jot in your notebook and kind of reflect on, they're things that shouldn't take you a lot of time to do. So I really appreciate that. And I really have enjoyed this conversation, really enjoyed the book. So excited for you. Hope that you win that PMI award and maybe I can have you back on the show after you do because there are a lot more things that we could talk about.

Brett Harned:       So thank you so much for joining me today. Really appreciate it.

Susanne Madsen:     Thank you. I really enjoyed it, too.

Brett Harned:       Great. Thanks.

Brett Harned:       Okay, folks, that's all we've got for this episode. I hope you check out Suzanne's book and I really hope she wins that PMI award. For more information about Susanne, check out the show notes. We're always sharing related content and resources there. And while you're at it, check out Team Gantt, a teamgantt.com, where we not only offer an easy to use project planning and management tool, but also share tons of content to help you clear project chaos and become a better PM. We'll be back with episode 23, which will be all about building project management communities. Thanks.

More episodes


Creating an Inclusive Workplace Culture with Yvette Pegues
Creative Design & Project Management with Greg Storey
Agency Operations & Project Management with Rob Harr
How to Grow and Lead a Business Successfully with Chris Dreyer