037 – Transform from Project Manager to Project Leader – with Naomi Caietti

037 – Transform from Project Manager to Project Leader – with Naomi Caietti

This episode we are joined at Happy Hour by prominent PM thought leader, Naomi Caetti. We chat with Naomi about what it takes to transition from being “just” a Project Manager to a Leader – both for your project and your organization. Check out this episode to learn how to take your game to the next level!


Naomi Caietti is an award-winning business woman, widely respected global virtual thought leader in the project management community for over 25 years, and an honoree of the 2017 #CelebratingWomen Project from Dr. Kirstin Ferguson.  In 2014, Naomi founded her consulting company to meet virtual on demand business needs as a speaker, author and consultant.

Naomi has been featured in national and international media//publications including the Project Management Institute, ProjectManagement.com, Workfront.com, Employee Engagement Network, Professional Woman Network, IT Metrics and Productivity Institute and ProjectManager.com. You can find out more about her new book “Transform Your Leadership” at www.naomicaietti.com, connect with her on Linkedin  and follow her on twitter at @califgirl232.

Links to Naomi’s Great Content

Naomi’s webinar, “The Self Aware PM,” packed with latest info for PMs who wish to “Transform from a PM to a Project Leader.”


Virtual Leadership Articles by Naomi:




Press Release for Naomi’s Podcast Book Tour




Get access to all podcasts, PDU certificates, bonus content, exclusive member Q&A webinars and more from our membership! https://pmhappyhour.com/membership



We love to hear about your tough PM issues, so please hit us up at podcast@pmhappyhour.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/pmhapyhour and we’ll see if we can help you. If we use your question, we’ll send you a PM Happy Hour coaster you can enjoy at your next happy hour.

Check out this episode!

Show Notes

About our guest, Naomi Caietti [1:05]

She’s an award winning businesswoman, widely respected global thought leader, and honoree of 2017 #celebratingwomen project by Dr. Kirsten Ferguson. She started her consulting company in 2014, and has been featured in national and international media and publications. You can find out more about her new book Transform Your Leadership at naomicaietti.com.

She lives and works in Northern California, and offers virtual services to niche client as an author, speaker, and consultant. She previously worked with the State of California in a large datacenter. She wanted to focus on a niche clientele from the beginning of her company, and acts as an advisor on a completely virtual platform. She’s also a blogger and enjoys doing podcasts, as well. When she’s not Project Managing, she loves playing tennis competitively, painting, and working with her daughter to create Etsy creations.

What is the most valuable business lesson you had to learn the hard way? [5:40]

She found in her experiences working with all sorts of organizations, listening proved itself to be an invaluable skill. When you really listen, you start to understand things you never did before, because you were too busy talking. Listening without judgment is a huge part of communication, which is, of course, integral to Project Managing itself.

Project Managers vs. Project Leaders [7:55]

As a credential PM, Naomi discovered that when managing a project, you’re never not leading. Project Managers aren’t just managing- they’re also leading, and to do that effectively, you need to have the right skills. Leadership is a choice, not a position or a title, and it requires the right skills to do it effectively. A lot of these skills are about using your soft skills, organization, and communication to remove roadblocks to help enable your team to do the best work they can.

The importance of training [13:20]

Here, Naomi talks about the responsibility organizations have to train their project managers. This she emphasizes as an absolutely critical piece, and if the organization does not invest in this, she highly recommends making your own investment in training.

How to go from Project Manager to Project Leader [15:37]

Don’t let job descriptions scare you away, but make sure that you have the right skills for the right project. She also recommends continuing to invest in your skills throughout your career path. For new project managers looking for experience, she recommends finding an organization where you can get your foot in the door, even if you have to start simple and are simply participating in a project. Sometimes bodies of work that aren’t called projects are, in actuality, projects, and you might be surprised you’ve already managed a few. You don’t have to go somewhere else, and started where you’re at can be an effective strategy.

Trends in Project Management [23:01]

All sorts of new online inspired tools are come on the scene such as AGILE, and Naomi asserts it is up to the companies themselves to decide if these are the right fit for them. She also discusses the movement towards smaller teams over larger ones. Challenges today lie in choosing the right tools for the company, and in making large, widely distributed team feel cohesive.

Communities of Practice [27:46]

PMI formed Community of Practice, which are specific organizations which act like chapters. They perform their own meetings areas for discussion and information, and operate on specific topics on everything from finance to leadership. These allow you to connect with others in these industry specific areas of expertise. Naomi helped launch the leadership community of practice, and now participates in the community avidly.

The six traits you should have to be an effective project manager [30:57]

This leadership research asked two questions: 1) What are the right behaviors for success? and 2) How do we accelerate this learning?

Of those surveyed across the globe, 16 key behaviors were found to be integral to advance in roles, and six of those behaviors fell into a project managing area. These six traits included:

  1. Being Proactive
  2. Being Flexible
  3. Being good at influencing others
  4. Being good at following
  5. Promoting Teamwork
  6. Being able to motivate

If you would like more information on this research, there is a research report, webinar available through PMI’s Leadership community of practice, and through a presentation prepared by Naomi.

The Move from Good to Great [36:40]

No matter where you are career wise, consider what has made you successful to get you here, will not make you successful in the future. Projects end, people get new jobs, teams disband, and you will need to move on to a new project. This is where project managers get stuck, because no matter how comfortable you are, you need to be ready for change, because it will happen. Push yourself, get outside your comfort zone, and don’t stop growing.

Key Probing Questions [39:47]

  • What are your personal goals for the next 6 months? The next year? Three years? –and, take the time to write them down
  • What are your strengths? Blind spots?
  • What is your preferred leadership style?

You know you’re in trouble if… [40:53]

  • You have an unresolved team conflict that’s been going on for weeks, and you missed your first deliverable mile stone
  • You met your first mile stone under budget and on time, but your stakeholders aren’t happy with the product

Principals for Success [41:47]

  • Keep leadership a daily, mindful practice
  • Don’t stop and training and improving

Leave a Reply