Leading a project towards success requires the manager to get the work done by the team members efficiently and effectively. It requires the person to have a clear vision, clarity in reason, practical in scheduling and the ability to attract a talented and efficient team.
The stress in project management is about ensuring that things get done while motivating the project team towards delivering project success. Good leadership can be cultivated and modified as per the organizational culture so as to gain results.
The basic distinction between the manager focus and the leadership focus can be captured as given below:
The application of leadership and management in the project execution is usually dependent on the type of project and the life cycle stage that the project is in. For projects which are huge impact, large scale, complex and global in nature the standards to be achieved, the goals and the deliverables are constrained by the time frame, budgets and the market dynamics. These types of projects involve large and distributed project teams, comprising members from diverse disciplines. Also the implementation is going to be multi-phased. In such a situation the project success and business sustenance can be achieved only through an effective and smart leadership.
The leadership style should be flexible, sharing, and innovative so as to bring about the project success. At the same time the leader should emphasize on team building and motivation so that the divergent members can work together as a team.
During the planning phase of the project, the leader should lead the team and the stakeholders through a fine tuned project study so as to understand the project needs. This phase needs to be stressed so as to gain complete awareness of the requirements. Similarly the project leader has a pivotal role to play in change management. A good leader should be able to anticipate the change and address it effectively. The leader should be able to steer and direct the team members on the methods to cope with change and utilize change to one’s advantage.
Most importantly the leader should be able to give credit, nurture creativity and support team members in taking calculative risks so as to deliver project success.
Excellent communication skills are vital, to enable a project manager to communicate effectively with a broad spectrum of people at different levels within an organization and externally.
In order to lead a project, you must be able to clearly communicate your vision, goals, guidelines and expectations to others.
The ability to deliver and receive constructive feedback and listen to others is another important part of leading a team of individuals. Essentially, being a great communicator is a key element to working well with others in any work environment.
The ability to see the ‘bigger picture’ behind a project and effectively convey that vision to others is an incredibly valuable and important quality in a Project Manager.
Successfully articulating the vision of a project ensures the team can experience it in their mind and helps to get them on board without delay.
A leader with an eternally full cup and a positive mental attitude is a pleasure to engage with and their enthusiasm automatically rubs off on others.
Being committed to a project and displaying confidence in it impacts positively on the team and forms the basis of a happy, productive work environment.
Part of being a great team leader is the ability to gain the trust of your team. By demonstrating that you are committed to adhering to both your values and ethical practices in general, team members will soon recognize that you are an honest leader whom they are happy to put their trust and faith in.
When a leader is unable to demonstrate that they are competent and capable, they will be unable to gain the respect and trust of their team and colleagues.
A team must always feel confident that their leader is in control and knows exactly what they are doing.
Regardless of how well a project is planned there will always be obstacles of some sort to overcome along the way. A good Project Manager will never panic or lose their head when things go wrong; instead they will remain calm, assess the problem and find the best way to resolve it, in order to put the project back on the right track.
If things become too stressful at any point, any flapping or excessive sweating should be done in private!
A great project manager should possess excellent problem solving skills and be resourceful and creative in their general approach to problems.
On many occasions when working on a project, this may be as a simple case of identifying the right person(s) within the team to help you resolve the problem quickly and effectively. Sometimes, the real skill here is in truly grasping the issues behind the problem as this is always a fundamental element of the problem solving process.
A strong, happy team is a productive one and for the project to reach a successful conclusion the team need to be working well together for a common purpose.
Within any team of individuals, you will find a variety of personalities that will need to somehow gel together to form a positive dynamic.
Part of successfully leading a team will involve learning about each individual’s skills and personality in order to get the best out of the team as a whole. Spotting areas of conflict within the team early on and managing conflict is crucial.
Having a good understanding of your team members allows you to delegate tasks to the right individuals for the best possible results.
Team members will respond well to a manager who delegates appropriate tasks that are well suited to their skill set and subsequently trusts them to get on with it. Encourage staff to approach you to discuss any queries or difficulties if they need to rather than undermine them by constantly checking up on them and they will feel more valued.
The personal decisions you make as a Project Manager have a direct impact on the success of a project and ultimately the success of the business itself. In order to be strong in this area it is essential that you arm yourself with all of the information you need from the outset so that when the time comes, informed decisions can be made quickly.
At times, however, it is inevitable that mistakes will be made – after all it is impossible to make the best decisions all of the time! If and when the wrong decision is made, an excellent leader will be able to put their hands up and take responsibility. There is nothing worse than a leader who points the finger when things go wrong instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions.