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Project Management Leadership – A Quick Guide

Project management leadership is one of the most used words in the professional world. In projects – that’s where I’m coming from – leadership in action is vital to get projects completed. However, many times, project management leadership is neglected or not well understood. 

The lack of project management leadership could be one of the top reasons that projects fail. This is because many project managers go up the career ladder from engineering as a high- performing specialist to being a project manager without proper training.

With the above statement, I imply that project management leadership can be taught or learnt depending on your viewpoint. And here I would confirm from my own experience that project management leadership could be learnt if the right training and mentorship is applied. As a youngster, I was fortunate to have trainers and mentors who had been leaders in their own field. Rubbing shoulders with these people has given me the blend of being practical and structured like engineers while still having the necessary outlook and energy to be one step ahead. 

So, what is project management leadership? And what is it for a project manager to manage or, better said, lead a project? These following keys will help to shed light on this topic: 

  1. Each project is unique and therefore requires an open mind on a daily basis to challenge the status quo.
  2. Changes and problems also occur on a daily basis. Hence, the project manager has to notice them and clarify the changes and solve the problems pro-actively.
  3. People need to know what they need to work on to complete the project. Work-scope clarity is one of the key topics in projects. The project manager has to ensure that the project team and stakeholders such as sub-contractors know precisely what they need to do. 
  4. Planning based on a strategic view of the project and implementing early measures to reduce risk factors or potential issues is a project management leadership trait, which must be ingrained with the project manager. 
  5. All of the above is good to know, great to do, however it ultimately is all about communication. Being curious, staying open-minded, asking clarifying questions and listening carefully are the basis of a good project manager and leader. In other words, you can only manage what you are aware of or what you know. Hence, daily communication in different ways, through different channels, is essential for project management leadership because it will support you in being aware of everything that is going on. 

Reading and understanding these 5 points is quite easy, yes? The question is, did you ever learn about these points and did you ever see a project manager or a mentor act like that? If so, then adopt these traits and practise them on a daily basis in your own job and you will see the positive shift in you and your project. 

If these topics are new and difficult to understand, I suggest you sign up for a project management leadership course and read books to become more familiar with this topic. Over time, you will see the change in you and your project effectiveness will increase. 

The key? 

Just do it. Only practice makes the difference! 

Peter Wyss