One of the strongest qualities of a project manager is the fact that they know how to get things done, while one of the best qualities of a good leader is the fact that they know how to get people to do things. When it comes to project management and leadership it all comes down to the performance of the team: how one can best manage or guide people towards achieving a common goal? Hence, developing leadership skills for project managers with the aim of improving team performance can be of great importance when managing a project.
In spite of the fact that not all project managers may be effective leaders, one thing is certain: successful project managers make use of their innovative and creative skills to help themselves develop leadership skills that will complement their project management abilities.
What are the essential qualities of a good leader?
- Communication is king: Communication involves the exchange of information with a broad spectrum of people at different levels, both within an organization and externally. So, make sure that the information is articulated in a clear, unambiguous and complete way and that its entirety is understood correctly. Being great at communicating your vision, goals, guidelines and expectations to others is a key element for working well with people in any work environment. Equally important is the ability to listen. Being able to receive constructive feedback and listen to others are crucial for communicating with a team of individuals.
- Build up team spirit: In order to motivate a team to evolve from a group of strangers into becoming a tight-knit, cohesive unit, you must understand the process and dynamics required for this transformation. It is fundamental to acquire knowledge of the different team members’ styles and learn 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 that can become crucial.
- Create a vision and engage: The project manager is one of the few people that can see the whole picture and all its fragments at the same time. Create a motive for each different stakeholder and ensure that your team members can connect their contributions to the project and the organizational goals. Recognizing the motivational power of everyone on a project team ensures self-satisfaction and helps people commit to the project vision. Throughout the life cycle of the project remember to positively reinforce your team. Make sure to verbally thank your staff and consider rewards such as bonuses. Keep rewards simple, and make sure that all team members who contribute to success are recognized.
- Cultivate Your Credibility: Set the example and show integrity, credibility and capacity. The best leaders promote values that people admire and choose to follow. You want to cultivate a climate of trust between the team members as well as yourself. Treat everyone fairly, communicate openly, facilitate problem solving and avoid situations that may affect your motivations and overall performance. Remember that you are setting the tone and creating an atmosphere conducive to success.
- Negotiate: Negotiations are a long-term process that may occur during several stages of a project. Always have in mind the organization and project goal, listen carefully, be open to changes and negotiate. The main objective is to get everybody on board and working effectively with one another. Gather all parties with shared or opposed interests with the intention of coming to a compromise before reaching a team decision. This process involves conferring with others so as to come to terms and reach an agreement that best serves the project.
There are several qualities that distinguish an effective project manager and developing good leadership skills is among the most important. Project managers who demonstrate competence in the key skills listed above can become a valuable asset to any organization and greatly increase the success rate of the projects they manage.