Autumn reflections on Project Management

By Elisabeth Goodman, 22nd October 2020

Regular reflection enables greater self-awareness, flexibility and resilience

The value of creating time for reflection is something that has surfaced a few times lately in my one-to-one coaching sessions with clients. People are so busy, juggling challenges at work and at home that finding time to stop and think can be really difficult, and yet I’ve found that the benefits for myself, and for my coaching clients can be huge! For me, just taking a 30-40 minute walk, or making some notes in my diary at the end of the day, can make all the difference to my state of mind, and to my personal development.

Taking time to be in nature and reflect can do wonders for our state of mind, and for our personal development

Being at the forefront of my awareness, it was a happy coincidence to spot some references to the value of reflection in the autumn issue of Project, the APM’s project management magazine.

Here’s a quote from Emma de Vita in an interview1 with Debbie Lewis, APM’s new chair and the director of strategic programmes in BT’s technology business:

“Lewis sets aside time for self-reflection (and advises all project managers to do so) and places great importance on this as a way to cultivate greater emotional intelligence and empathy.”

Wendy Shooter, a business psychologist, includes regular reflection in her description of the top three behaviours to support project managers’ performance and careers2. For her, this is about managing your project’s and your time so that you can include reflection time within your day. This reflection enables you to not only pre-empt potential risks to your project delivery schedule, but also consider how you are interacting with others and how you could improve on that to get the results that you want.

Lewis echoes a theme I’ve written about elsewhere3,4: the importance of being able to flex your leadership style, to suit different situations and people. Lewis advocate self-reflection for developing greater self-awareness in support of being able to flex in this way.

She also emphasises the importance of being able to draw upon self-resilience5 and self-confidence to help project managers deal with all the challenges involved in managing the complexity of projects, and the personalities involved.

Building relationships and creating a climate of partnership

Picking up on the theme of dealing with the personalities involved in a project, there are some great tips on this topic from Elizabeth Harrin6 and Susanne Masden7

Elizabeth Harrin is the author of Engaging stakeholders on projects: How to harness people power6. Her article is filled with really useful insights. She advocates using the term “stakeholder engagement” rather than “stakeholder management”, suggesting that this creates more of an emphasis on building relationships and partnerships. I wonder whether the term “stakeholder management” creates something more of an “us and them” scenario? Harrin has a formula:

Understanding + action + influence = engagement

Stakeholders by the way include anyone who has some kind of impact on your project, such as team members, their managers, customers, suppliers.

Understanding stakeholders is all about appreciating how they feel about the project, its impact on them (or their impact on it), and how the work on it is progressing. As Harrin says, it’s about engaging with their hearts as well as their minds, creating a climate of mutual respect through what you say and do, and so working more effectively together to achieve your desired outcomes.

Susanne Masden writes a regular column for Project. Her theme in the autumn issue is about creating a closer working relationship with your team. Her observations relate to the concept of “psychological safety”8 and a team leader’s role in promoting it, developing their social awareness to tune into and moderate team dynamics as necessary, being a role model of openness.

Taking time to reflect would seem to be not only valuable, but essential, to enable project managers and leaders to fulfill all of these responsibilities.



  1. De Vita, E. (2020). The big interview. Debbie Lewis. Project, Autumn, issue 304, pp. 26-29
  2. Shooter, W. (2020). Improve your performance. Project, Autumn, issue 304, pp. 53-55
  6. Harrin, E. (2020). Why you need to engage stakeholders. Project, Autumn, issue 304, pp. 60-62
  7. Madsen, S. (2020). Dear Susanne. How can I create a closer working relationship with my team? Project, Autumn, issue 304, p. 67

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.

She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to achieve authenticity and autonomy in the workplace by enhancing their management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

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