Program Leadership

PSGS 032: Expert Interview on Leadership in PMOs with Dr. Bojeun

Today we have with us Dr. Mark C. Bojeun.

Dr. Bojeun holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Strayer University, an MBA from George Mason University, and has a PhD in Organizational Management. He is one of a small number of people in the world to hold certifications as a Program Management Professional (PgMP), Project Management Professional (PMP), and Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). In addition, he holds a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) in .NET and ITIL.

He has been responsible for teams of over 100 individuals and has managed contracts in excess of $50 million. He has also taught hundreds of students in program, project and risk management as both a professional instructor and adjunct professor at George Mason University, Strayer University, Mississippi University for Women and Ashford University. Finally, he’s the author of the book, “Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics.”


Gerald: Welcome to the P.P.M. Academy Podcast Project Program and Portfolio Managers, where we will
interview industry experts and discuss current and future trends in the world of project, program and
portfolio management and how what we do impacts our company’s execution culture. I’m Gerald
Leonard. Today I have with us Dr. Mark Bojeun. Doctor Bojeun holds a Bachelors of Science in Business
Administration from Strayer University and an M.B.A. from George Mason University and has a PhD. in
Organizational Management. He is one of a small number of people in the world who holds the
certification as a Program Management Professional (PgMP), Project Management Professional (PMP),
and Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Also, he
holds a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) in .NET and ITIL certification. He has been
responsible for teams of over 100 individuals and has managed contracts more than $50 million. He has
also taught hundreds of students in program, project and risk management as both a professional
instructor and adjunct professor at George Mason University, Strayer University, Mississippi University
for Women and Ashford University. Finally, he’s the author of the book, “Program Management
Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics.” Mark, thanks so much for talking with us today. I know today we’re going to have a little bit of a twist in what we’re going to talk about and we’re going to talk about the importance of leadership in program and project management also including the emotional intelligence motivation and empowerment. What
are your thoughts about that?

Mark: First off, thanks for having me back, I truly enjoyed doing your show. You know as we can look at
program management and project management for so long we can focus on the mechanisms behind
that managing from our program level, you know until we follow the process and all the rest. In 2015,
P.M.I. came out with the New Talent Triangle really elevating the importance of leadership and
leadership is how we’re actually able to drive our teams to the high-performance levels of the teams
need to be at. You know just to be on the same page, my favorite definition of leadership is a leader is
someone who is able to persuade others to willingly set aside their own personal agendas and work
towards a common vision.

Gerald: Yes, yes. You know one of my favorite definitions is John Maxwell where he says; leadership is
influence nothing more, nothing less.

Mark: Yes, absolutely and the key phrase is in the definition you know number one is persuaded…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: I’m not ordering somebody, I can’t order somebody. I can’t order someone to give up themselves,
so I can tell them what they’re going to do eight to five, but that’s it…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: And the second part of that is to set aside their own personal ambitions willingly, you know whenwhen a leader persuades someone to set aside their own personal agenda and work towards a common
vision, they have the investment of the team method and personal investment and in that personal
investment that’s what we really get past the, can you do the task. Yes I can do the task and they do the
task and they’re done. This is where we get folks to invest of themselves in the projects, and we need
that investment to drive it to a high performing level.

Gerald: Gotcha, gotcha. So you know you talk a little bit about emotional intelligence, can you get into a
little emotional intelligence and how does that show up with leading teams and what factors does that
play in?

Mark: This is something it’s growing a lot in popularity, it’s been out there for a while, but folks haven’t
necessarily really taken it and run with, you know emotional intelligence is an awareness of feelings,
emotions, how people operate, not only is that how your team operates but also how you operate…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: So as a leader if I have a high level of emotional intelligence and self-aware, I know what’s going on, I’m able to compartmentalize and take you know my personal life and set it aside and focus on what
we’re doing for the team…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: One of the things I truly cannot stand is the leaders who come, I’ll call them project managers, not
leaders but project managers who come in on Monday morning and says, ugh I hate Mondays, okay

Gerald: Exactly, I got you.

Mark: It’s having an impact on the team…

Gerald: Right, right.
(Cross talk)

Gerald: You’re setting the stage.

Mark: You walk in on Monday morning, you got to be bright and cheerful…

Gerald: Exactly

Mark: That’s what the team is going to emulate.

Gerald: Right, exactly.

Mark: And someone with a high level of emotional intelligence, they will be able to recognize their team
members as well that be able to see how their actions, other team members actions; your organization
have an impact on an individual and to be able to address that impact before that has a negative impact
on the team as a whole.

Gerald: Okay.

Mark: So you know it’s a question of self-awareness, the dealer studies that are out, which I find
fascinating is that IQ is actually measured, IQ is considered to be less important now than emotional

Gerald: Right, right.

Mark: And so you know it used to be well the smarter you are, the better you’re going to be, well we
found out that’s really not true. You could be a complete genius, but if you have no emotional
intelligence, you’ll never connect with your team…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: You’ll never be able to set the tone for the team, you won’t be able to create a positive working
environment, and you probably won’t alienate team members.

Gerald: Right

Mark: So we’re starting to see leaders demonstrating more and more emotional intellect over I.Q. I can
hire intelligent people till the cows come home…

Gerald: Okay.

Mark: But a leader is got be able to bring that emotional side in, it’s a sob skill where they need to be
able to bring that into the team and use that to drive that team towards high performing teams.

Gerald: Right, what do you think that’s so hard for project managers and even other business executives
to develop that skill even though they’re extremely smart really but when it comes to that emotional
intelligence and really understanding that they need to make a personal and also an emotional
connection with their team. Why do you think that is so difficult?

Mark: Well, you know and this is something I hear every project manager tell me, I can’t control the
organization’s culture, and you’re right, you can’t. At a project level, you don’t have the authority or the
ability to affect the organization as a whole. What you do have is the ability to affect your project team,
so when we go through team development, you know the forming, storming, norming, performing and
turning. In that forming stage, we have this unique opportunity to set up a project culture that may
differ from the organizational culture but by setting up this project culture focused on positive, focused
on empowerment, focused on valuing the team members at the opportunity to create a unique
environment or a team…

Gerald: Exactly.

Mark: We look at motivating teams, and people say to me, what do I need to do to motivate my team?

Gerald: Right.

Mark: The answer is, there is no one single solution, your team members are unique individuals,
therefore, they have unique drivers, and therefore you have to recognize those drivers to determine
what matters to them. Can you just give the money? No, money isn’t going to drive people to the
willingly set aside their personal agendas…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: You now whether it’s empowering them, giving them more authority, whether it’s letting them
working in the kind of technology that they want to be working in. We have to take the time to
understand them; we have to take the time to invest in the team members so if they invest in our

Gerald: Right, right because people, it’s like the old saying, people – they don’t care how much you know,
they care how much you care about them, you know from that standpoint I know that you care.

Mark: Absolutely, you know we talk about failure – failure is you know where we learn and everybody I
think agrees that failures is a part of life and when there are failures, you know what we fail until we
succeed but each time we fail, we learn something, and we move on to the next level…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: If we have emotional intelligence and if we understand our team members we’re supporting our
team members as they move forward. The failures that they encounter are not held to you know earth
shattering levels, they understand that we’ve got their back, they understand that we’re working
together towards a common solution and they feel comfortable now in taking those risks in the
innovation, in the creativity. Creativity never comes if you are afraid of failing…

Gerald: Exactly.

Mark: If you fail and if you’re afraid that you’re going to get fired for failing or you know, or you’re going
to get in trouble for it then you’re not going to take the risk to generate something brand new, and
that’s what projects are there their unique products and services.

Gerald: Exactly, you know when you think about just the whole idea of failure you know if on a project
teams, we have a lot of different personalities and a lot of people and sometimes we end up with a
couple of people that are struggling trying to keep up with the team or to do their part. What have you
seen to be most effective in ways to handle team members who may have issues or challenges?

Mark: Well you know once again it comes down to getting to know your team members and
understanding them…

Gerald: Okay.

Mark: Each issue that you encounter is unique. I’ve had people who were incredibly intelligent, capable
of doing things that would blow your mind away but they would alienate all of their coworkers, all of
their colleagues in the way they responded to new ideas, to innovation, you know they shut down
innovation if it wasn’t coming from them personally. So that’s where a project manager will step in, a
leader will step in and start working with communications processes with conflict resolution strategies
and start working with the team, and once again we go back to that whole aspect that the team is going
to follow what the leaders does over what they say…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: So I can’t necessarily say go be nice to each other. What I have to do is I have to demonstrate it
and quite often when dealing with teams, what we do have those kinds of problems, participating in the
meetings, generally shutting down any negativity, encouraging people to speak up, you’re setting a
standard that the rest of the team is now they can now see how that standard is to be emulated…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: And so as a leader what we’re doing is we’re walking the walk, you know talking we’re talking and
demonstrating what we expect, setting out those you know basically the culture that we are willing to
accept within our team.

Gerald: Exactly and I think that’s a really critical part as you know. I’m all about the culture with my book,
you know the stuff that I’m doing but I think when it comes to project teams, each one has it’s own little
culture and you know earlier we talked about the idea that a project manager can’t come in and change
the organization but I have seen a project manager who’s savvy come in, work with this team, create an
incredible culture and influence the organization because of the work that that team was doing.

Mark: Absolutely, but you know the project managers role, and responsibility in 90% of what they’re
supposed to be doing is clearing the way, clearing the obstacles out of the path of the teams so the
team can do what they need to do…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: And if there are issues that come back down the project manager is the shield. The project
manager needs to absorb it, there isn’t a single project I have ever run that I did not start out with telling
them success is the team, failure is mine, failure is not an option. But they’re your mine, and the reality
is that because I’m managing the project anything that goes wrong is going wrong because of the
decision making that I made on that project…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: So, therefore, it is my responsibility, but by doing that we create a kind of shield over the team
and I like to use a phrase I’ve given a talk from this around the country, I like to use the phrase, project

Gerald: Okay.

Mark: We can create this bubble within the organization, and the organization can be as toxic or as
positive as it is…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: But within our team, we’re in our own little world, and we’re now setting up the standards and
the expectations and the support levels that we want to work with within the team…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: So when we set up that positive culture when we set up that culture where barriers okay as long
as we learn from it and we move forward. You’re now you have people who will actually want to work
on the projects; they’ll want to work with you…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: You know when you look at the five stages of team development, Tuckerman Five Stages, forming,
storming, norming, performing and then the adjourning, in a truly high performing team, the adjourning
turns to mourning, people actually mourn the team breaking up.

Gerald: Yes.

Mark: This was fun; I want to stay here…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: I’ve got to go work on another project now and so there’s that kind of sadness because you’re
coming apart you know as a team.

Gerald: Right, there’s loss.

Mark: We’ve achieved that level, and you know you have a positive culture…

Gerald: Exactly, right because it was there’s a loss there for them to have to break up their core team
and move on to another project to realize that they’re leaving their you to know almost family if you will
right because they’ve gotten that close to you know they stayed up nights working on code, they’ve you
know talked through different situations or maybe argued through situations but they’ve always come
out where it was a win-win, and everyone was respected and thought about so that by the time the
team is ready to dismantle if you will there is a real heartbreak.

Mark: Absolutely, absolutely yeah, when you build the teams so that they become self-managed,
empowered, their communication is acceptable, you know positive and their collaboration, they’re
interacting with each other, and the conflict resolution is maintained at a positive level completely clear.
Innovation creativity only comes from conflict…

Gerald: Exactly.

Mark: But we have to stay on the positive side of the conflict and avoid the negative side…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: My personal greatest success in my career was that I built a team over five years and we had zero
percent attrition over that five years.

Gerald: Wow.

Mark: But when I left, the change stayed together, and for three years they had zero percent attrition,
and they stayed together. It was a team that no longer needed a leader…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: They had established the culture, they had the communication, they stayed together and they
pretty much self-managed the projects that they had going forward.

Gerald: Right, right yeah that’s really big and I think it’s more important than ever for organizations, for
federal government, state governments to really invest and create the kind of program leadership
planning and skill set capability that’s needed to lead these major projects and whether the smaller or
mega projects or large projects but that they have that skill set; that tool set, that mindset to be able to
do that and that’s it’s a good segue into my last little topic here. which is recently the U.S. Senate
anonymously approved the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act. Now this
basically is going to the desk of President Obama before he leaves office and he signs it and it becomes a
law and basically it states that the federal government now is requiring that all major programs, projects,
and programs have a program manager and that the government is going to be investing in bringing on
board a strong program management leadership, what are your thoughts about that?

Mark: I personally think it’s fantastic, you know the P.M.P. has been a part of government contracts now
and commercial contracts are (Inaudible, 17:12) for quite some time you know probably eight years or
so where it is now a minimum standard, minimum set of expectations is that if you want to be a project
manager you walk in with a PMP…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: The PGMP, the program management professional, while it’s growing, it hasn’t grown very fast or
very quickly, I mean the numbers are getting up there right now because of the more expensive

Gerald: Right.

Mark: But it does ensure that we are at least following an equivalent set of patterns across programs,
we have benefit management that we’re managing our stakeholder expectations that we are as we
realize the benefits we’re communicating those benefits out. You know I think it’s a fantastic thing. I
watch on LinkedIn, it’s one of my favorite things is every week or every couple of weeks you’ll see
someone post an article about how certification, you know ruin project management or they didn’t need
certification and you know all the rest of it. The reality is that certification says that you are
knowledgeable and aware of the processes that are that are part of managing the project…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: Now with the program to be aware of those processes and it says that we’ll be able to
consistently manage our project managers because we’re going to get the same output from all of them.

Gerald: Right.

Mark: Whether you like to sort of case or not, no certification does not make somebody qualified.

Gerald: Correct, we all know that right?

Mark: But it is a minimum set of standards, is that you know this information…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: One of the problems is now that with soft skills they are really kind of coming up and you know
quite often you hear a project manager or program managers say, oh I hate this soft skill stuff. Yeah but
it’s with soft skills that drive you to success.

Gerald: Exactly, it’s really some of the most important things because you can have the system process
and tools in the heart skills but if the finesse, the emotional intelligence, the communication skills of you
don’t if you’re struggling in that area then you’re going to struggle to lead a team and really building a
cohesive team.

Mark: Right, right if you don’t have that conflict resolution, you don’t have the communication standards,
you will absolutely, the team is never going to kind of become a cohesive unit, it’s going to you know to
stay as individual globs of mercury if you’re, where they’re all on their own side of the coin…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: You know, one of the things we have to do in program management and project management is
we have to convince our team members to tell us specifically what we don’t want to hear…

Gerald: Okay.

Mark: I need to know the absolute worst news…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: So that we can manage to it, okay if I’m not emotionally aware and somebody’s comes to tell me
that there’s bad news and I curse and stomp my foot and get angry and get upset. You know in all
honesty their not going to come and tell me the next time there’s a problem…

Gerald: Exactly.

Mark: I need to know when there’s an issue…

Gerald: Exactly.

Mark: I can’t be successful without it…

Gerald: Exactly, you know in fact this program policy has four major issues or areas that it’s that they
have to focus on and one is job creation and in the career path the program managers. Another one is
developing the standards for the program management policies. The third one is the executive
sponsorship and making sure that the executives are engaged in as you know that’s critical for executive
leadership to stay engaged throughout and as you know a lot of times executives call on two programs
or projects and once they feel like it’s comfortable and maybe thing is moving they want to bow out and
go do something else…

Mark: Right.

Gerald: And we really need them to stay engaged the entire time throughout the whole process and
then finally it’s the sharing of knowledge from successful program managers across to other program
managers, what are your thoughts about these four?

Mark: Well I mean, being able to work you know with other program managers, being able to work
within a portfolio, having a consistent set of standards across the board, managing our stakeholders,
these are critical success factors.

Gerald: Right.

Mark: I can remember I was working on a project we had a one billion dollar a year multinational firm
that we were working and I sat down with the C.E.O. and the first risk that we went over is that the
C.E.O. become uninvolved…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: He said, the greatest risk project is me, and I said, absolutely. He says, how so I said well if you
stop paying attention…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: Everyone will stop working…

Gerald: Exactly, exactly.

Mark: So you know I need your involvement, I need you to stay involved, I need you to participate, and
he was for it because he really hadn’t considered the fact that he couldn’t just set this program up and
then walk away, it was going to require his involvement on an ongoing basis and his support for the
organization because it was a very risky, very creative and very innovative program…

Gerald: Right, right and we know where the leadership is focus than the rest of the team is going to
focus but when he turns his attention to somewhere else they’re going to turn their attention to
somewhere else and something that’s critical like that you could end up dropping the ball on.

Mark: Absolutely, absolutely yeah when executive management takes their eye away, you know folks
are going to work on what they feel is you know the thing that executive managers most want them to
do and not necessarily what they really do want them to be working on…

Gerald: Right.

Mark: So, yeah there’s a huge shift there, and we have to manage to that, and quite often we have to
turn around to explain to our stakeholders, yeah you know what your involvement, your lack of
involvement is killing the program.

Gerald: Exactly and that’s a really critical and important message to get across. Well Mark as we close
here if our listeners want to learn more about you, where can they go?

Mark: Number one at LinkedIn, always find me on LinkedIn, I’ve got an open profile, Mark Bojeun and
that probably be the best way. I’m also working for Harrisburg University in their Master of Project

Gerald: Okay.

Mark: In their Agile and Lean Center, so you can always contact me through Harrisburg University.

Gerald: Excellent, excellent. Well, I definitely look forward to talking with you and a lot of your
colleagues at that university as you, and I have kind of talked offline about. So, in conclusion, Mark,
thank you so much for talking with us today.
Ladies and gentleman that was Dr. Mark Bojeun, author of Program Management Leadership and for
more expert insights go to (Inaudible, 23:52)

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