How To Develop Yourself With Volunteer Leadership: Insights from the Project Management Institute

PMI Talent Triangle_2015 (1)

As project managers, we are called on to lead our project teams and take on increasing responsibility. Given that need, the Project Management Institute has developed a range of excellent leadership programs for project managers. In today’s Q&A interview, Brian Weiss, PMI’s Vice President – Practitioner Markets, shares an overview of the Institute’s programs. Brian Weiss has been with PMI since 2007. His prior experience includes leading marketing at Aramark and business development roles at consulting firms.

1. How can professionals develop their leadership skills with PMI? 

PMI’s Leadership Institute Program is specifically designed to equip volunteers with the well-rounded combination of skills that employers need: leadership skills, strategic and business management skills, and technical project management skills.  The demand for these skills, which are illustrated by the PMI Talent Triangle, has been confirmed by years’ worth of PMI research. PMI Leadership Institute Program events give volunteers a chance to work outside the box, so to speak, and gain a much broader skill set and perspective than they often have access to in their day-to-day jobs. Year after year, these skills, along with “networking” and “knowledge building,” top the list of benefits that PMI volunteers report when sharing their experiences with their peers and program leaders.

 2. How does volunteer leadership improve one’s visibility? How can this visibility be translated into career development?

PMI volunteer leadership improves one’s visibility at two levels:

  • With their peers in the project management profession. The nature of PMI’s volunteerism, along with its face-to-face events and regular online interaction, help people build a global professional network of leaders and like-minded professionals that they can’t build behind a desk.  The international contacts they meet and global perspectives they learn on top of the professional skills and certifications they already have make them exponentially more visible partners and job candidates.
  • With leaders in their own organizations. PMI’s volunteers tend to be career project and program managers who have held very specific project-based roles within their organizations. By volunteering with PMI, they learn about strategic planning and execution, business management, and marketing, as well has how to navigate governance issues, legal issues, and strategic financial situations.  Essentially, they’re learning how to speak the language of executives, so when they engage with various levels of management with their own organizations, they can communicate with understanding of their business’s intricacies and complexities. PMI volunteers are true examples of the next-generation project manager that today’s organizations require – project managers with proven strategic business management, technical project management and leadership skills.

 3. Can you provide a few examples of the most popular leadership roles available through PMI?

There are a number of ways for PMI’s 8,000 to 10,000 active volunteers to become PMI volunteer leaders, and they vary based on interest and professional experience.  PMI’s three categories of volunteer roles include:

  • Strategic – The role of the strategic volunteer is first represented with the Board. Volunteers that monitor on-going activities of PMI for the purpose of providing input, advice and recommendations that ultimately sets the strategic direction for the institute. Through the collective wisdom, experience, diversity and passion of this group of volunteers, strategic initiatives and fiduciary responsibilities are established and executed.
  • Operational – Volunteers that are primarily leaders of areas of the Institute and its activities. The three most common are Community Leaders, Member Advisory Group (“MAG”) Members, Mentors and Standards development committees. These volunteers lead critical development and delivery functions within PMI. They are focused on providing operational input, advice and recommendations both on programs, products and services at the GOC level and also at the local level.
  • Content/Independent Contributor – We characterize the last group of volunteers as “At-Large” and will include professionals engaged in project, program and portfolio management and connect with PMI via opportunities for “volunteering” that arise from either in the Global Knowledge Portal, that are unstructured and arise organically as members participate in discussion forums or offered through PMI global or community opportunities. This group represents the individual contributors to institute programs and in roles that are not necessarily focused on leadership, but on contribution and building influence.

4. What is the goal of PMI’s Leadership Institute?

PMI’s Leadership Institute Program is our investment into the enrichment of our most valuable resource – our volunteers. The sole purpose of Program is to develop PMI’s members into stronger, more effective volunteers and leaders both professionally and personally.  The program, which started in 1994 with 75 volunteers at a single Leadership Institute Meeting, supports 3000 volunteers annually through multiple live and virtual events provided all over the world, and our goal is to keep growing.

5. If a project manager is interested in learning more about the Institute’s programs, who can they contact?

More details on the programs are available through the PMI website.

6. What are project managers saying about their experiences with the Institute? 

“LIMs provide a forum for leadership and learning.  I get great ideas, develop long-lasting relationships, and learn from others.  It’s all value add!” – Connie Plowman, PMP (Chapter Member Advisory Group:)

“The quality of sessions at LIMs is very high.  I now have  a professional network that is more diverse in both global spread and industry than most people could dream of developing over their whole careers. I regularly speak with people I’ve met at LIMs and have developed many strong friendships that will last a long time. When you attend your second LIM you will find the event feels like a reunion with friends and family!”” –  M Muhammed A.B. Ilyas, Registered Education Provider Advisory Group (Four-Time LIM Attendee)

7. What are project managers saying about the Institute’s Master Class? 

Here are a few of the comments we have received about the Master Class:

  • “It was a life changing experience and yes we have good strong connections. As far as learning is concerned, it is a life time learning experience. This class has changed our lives, our working styles, our leadership styles and efforts.”
  • “This is an amazing journey with a unique set of people…and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it!”
  • “I think the selection criteria and process of identifying such diverse and talented group is a credit to the PMI Leadership. I am hoping the relationships we have made continue and only get stronger.  It truly has been a privilege to be associated with the Master Class program!”

8. What programs and plans do you have for 2016?

Four Leadership Institute Programs events are scheduled to be conducted in 2016:

  • Leadership Institute Volunteer Planning Meeting
    20-23 January 2016
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Latin America Leadership Institute Meeting
    2-3 April 2016
    Lima, Peru
  • EMEA Leadership Institute Meeting
    6-8 May 2016
    Barcelona, Spain
  • North America Leadership Institute Meeting
  • 22-24 September 2016
    Location to be announced
  • The 2015/2016 Leadership Institute Master Class
  • A variety of virtual development programs offered throughout the year.

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5 thoughts on “How To Develop Yourself With Volunteer Leadership: Insights from the Project Management Institute

  1. I think it is the most complete and stratetic skills for anyone that intend to lead a high performance team and applying fast and intensive results.
    I am starting at this moment a Project Manager professional degree and i am sure i will find and develop what i need to my carrier.

    • Flaviano, thanks for your comment. It is great that you are seeking to learn more. What program of study are you going starting?

  2. I am Member since last 2 years and doing National level Paper review last 2 Years. I have been Appointed Region Connect Ambassador(RCA) under PMINIC Chapter and doing Volunteer roles in my Region. Hw and when i will be eligible to join LIM Master Courses.