When project leadership resembles refereeing a rugby game

Jϋrgen Oschadleus. Jϋrgen Oschadleus.

Project managers who understand leadership to be a process of influence also understand that their role requires them to be leaders, irrespective of their hierarchical position. Once you start working in a matrix-type project structure you realise very quickly that influence and leadership is an absolute ‘must have.’

This is the view of author, project management development and leadership consultant, Jϋrgen Oschadleus who will be in South Africa in November to deliver a keynote address at the Project Management South Africa (PMSA) Western Cape Conference, taking place at the Lagoon Beach Hotel near Milnerton.

Oschadleus goes on to equate the role of project leader with that of a referee in a rugby game.

“Leadership is a bit like refereeing; you don’t really notice the good ones because they don’t draw attention to themselves. They are there to provide structure, ensure adherence to the spirit of the law, and keep everyone focused on the objective, which is to provide their stakeholders (the paying fans) with value for money. But they also have the courage to act when it becomes necessary, either to diffuse potential conflict or to confront issues head-on.”

“I think the odds are stacked against referees; the stakes are getting higher and they are under enormous pressure. It’s getting easier to second-guess them from the luxury of the air-conditioned lounges with instant slow-motion replays. And yet they’re out there, creating an environment for our benefit; I think that’s a wonderful analogy for the work of project leaders in all areas of society,” Oschadleus adds.

The overall theme of the PMSA conference is Leadership, Strategy and Methodology – key considerations for the modern project manager as the expectations around this emerging profession increase with every allocation of capital expenditure and public sector commitment to infrastructure.

Oschadleus shares the podium with other notable thought leaders including author and scenario planner and futurologist Clem Sunter; as well as Tim Harris formerly of City of Cape Town who now heads up trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape, Wesgro.

At a time when leadership is as important as management to realise project objectives, it is opportune to reflect on global best practices and the lessons we can derive from the successful projects to emerge from South Africa and the Western Cape in particular in the past few years. The conference, as a knowledge sharing opportunity, is the ideal platform from which project managers can refresh their thinking, and celebrate their profession.

The PMSA conference is supported by events partners with a notable national presence, including Project Portfolio Office (PPO,) Next Level Consulting and Faculty Training Institute, who will all be represented at the event.


There are still places available and interested parties can find out more or register online at

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