Complex Project Leadership
Competency Standards


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In an era marked by constant change, heightened interconnectedness, and intricate interdependencies, the successful execution of complex projects has become imperative for organisations across industries. To achieve favourable outcomes, a new breed of project leaders must emerge, equipped with the competence to navigate the complexities inherent in our modern project delivery environment. It is with great pleasure that we introduce this document, which outlines competency standards for complex project leadership. 

Traditional project management approaches, while effective in many contexts, fall short when faced with the multifaceted challenges of today’s projects. The intricacy and scale of these endeavours necessitate a different approach, one that transcends mere task management and delves into the realms of systemic thinking, strategy, innovation, collaboration, and adaptability. Complex project leadership, therefore, emerges as a distinct leadership competency, essential for guiding organisations through the ever-evolving landscape of modern project delivery. 

The competencies outlined in this document encompass a broad spectrum of skills, attributes, and behaviours that underpin effective complex project leadership. These competencies range from systemic thinking and action, focusing strategically on delivering project outcomes to engaging collaboratively with stakeholders, exercising contextual leadership and applying system governance and delivery assurance. Project Leaders who embody these competencies are able to navigate uncertainty and ambiguity, inspire teams, manage change, and leverage emerging technologies to create innovative solutions amidst complex project landscapes. 

This document defines and articulates the core competencies required for successful complex project leadership. It represents the collective wisdom and insights of an international group of experienced professionals, scholars, and practitioners who have dedicated themselves to understanding and refining the art and science of leading complex projects. Through extensive consultation and analysis, these competency standards provide a comprehensive framework that project professionals can utilise to enhance their project leadership capabilities and drive exceptional results in complex project delivery. 

These competency standards are the result of an international consultation process that brought together leading academics and experienced practitioners over a number of years. With the acknowledgement that primacy is shifting from ‘management’ to ‘leadership’ in complex projects, these Standards detail specific competencies required to navigate project complexity.

A Complex Project Leadership Certification Program is currently being developed. More information on the Certification Program to come.