What is leadership, exactly? It can feel like a mysterious mixture of interpersonal skills, emotional intelli- gence, knowledge, experience, charm and charisma. But leadership is a
skill—one that project managers can sharpen. Try
honing these four leadership skills to improve
projects and teams.
1. FOCUS ON THE VISION
I was once involved in a large mobile financial services project with three workstreams scheduled to
occur in parallel: setup, marketing and legalizations.
However, midway through the project, stakeholders
began to focus on the setup stream so the mobile
platform would get finished in time. And it did—
but the marketing plan and regulations compliance
work did not. With no idea what to do with the
product and a market unprepared for it, the organization eventually decommissioned the platform
we’d created. At the postmortem, stakeholders
agreed that the main reason for the failure was the
loss of the initial plan.
To prevent failed projects like this, it’s essential
for the project manager to be aware of the ulti-
mate objective of the project and the value it will
deliver. In other words, the project manager has to
know how the project fits into the bigger picture
and make sure the team understands it as well.
This is especially true in large and lengthy projects
2. BE ABLE TO SAY NO
Everyone needs to be able to say no to a bad idea,
of course. But it’s a particularly helpful leadership skill for project managers. Senior leaders
sometimes try to push or influence the project in
ways that don’t align with its objective, and clients
sometimes ask for impossible scope additions.
Project leaders must know how to diplomatically
push back and defend their position. If you fully
understand the project’s vision and constraints—
and how the plan reflects them—saying no
becomes easier to justify.
3. BRAINSTORM ON THE FLY
Most projects face obstacles, and many obstacles
have no obvious solutions. Brainstorming is therefore a necessary part of leading a successful project.
Great leaders have mastered certain skills—and so can you.
By Amr Sadek, PMP
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