There is no right or wrong way to lead a project. Leadership is an art. Project Managers must be flexible and respond to the dynamics of each unique project to drive successful outcomes.
Project Managers are equipped with tools and techniques that focus on managing tasks, assigning resources, and communicating within the context of project tasks. True leadership extends beyond tasks or a set of interpersonal skills. True leadership develops an environment and culture that can succeed.
The quick rate of change is an ever-increasing reality in today’s environment. In 1880, nearly 49,000 telephones were in use. It took roughly 25 years to reach over 1 million lines. In comparison to the rate of change we see today, Airbnb reached 1 million nights booked only 30 months after the service launched. Organizations are adopting virtual work environments, Agile methodologies, and DevOps. Today’s business and technology changes are complex and have the potential to disrupt successful project outcomes. Project Management leadership offers a solution to navigate these complex challenges.
Project Management Leadership starts with people. Leaders are responsible for establishing the principles and vision that build a shared purpose. They build frameworks that help teams effectively work together to meet project objectives. Leaders must also build operational constructs that allow them to get out of the way so that team’s momentum reaches the desired results.
Shared Purpose: Project Manager Leaders who carve out time to meet with team members and understand their perspective, are more likely to see better results. The understanding and perspectives gained can then be applied to how project work is planned. This in turn, increases the team’s productivity – because the environment exists that is defined in the context of the team’s own perspective. The activity of listening to understand your team, observing their behavior, and obtaining feedback is ongoing throughout the project. Focusing on people and developing the principles that lead to shared purpose is essential in Project Management Leadership.
Team Collaboration: Project Manager Leaders have the responsibility to enable team organization. Project Manager Leaders make it easy to convey project team needs in a simple and intuitive way. If the team requires training on new software or access to a critical tool, the Project Manager quickly provides support. The Project Manager Leader takes deliberate steps to create engagement that promotes innovative feedback through focused and creative thinking. Best practice project management communication tools and techniques are effective in supporting team collaboration. When implemented well, team collaboration is a critical success factor for project success.
Process Rigor: Project Manager Leaders have a clear process for delivery and carry out project management fundamentals. Project Manager Leaders put structured processes in place for project delivery. Processes should make sense and be flexible. Project Manager Leaders hold teams and stakeholders accountable once acclimated to the processes. More importantly, Project Manager Leaders holds themselves accountable. The Project Manager Leader must keep their commitment to the project team, project objectives, and project stakeholders.
Success is not an accident. A structured and repeatable approach combined with Project Management Leadership supports success that is shared with the team. Project Managers who align project management standards with purpose, team collaboration, and rigor are more likely to lead teams that can plan, organize, and deliver measurable results.